Consumer Financial Protection Bureau acting director Mick Mulvaney laid out his vision for the agency, promising a starkly different approach than the one developed under his predecessor.
Referencing a quote in which former director Richard Cordray talked about how his department focused on “pushing the envelope,” Mulvaney drew a sharp contrast in a Tuesday opinion piece that appeared in the Wall Street Journal.
“That entire governing philosophy of pushing the envelope frightens me a little,” Mulvaney wrote. “We are government employees, and we work for the people. That means everyone: those who use credit cards and those who provide the credit; those who take out loans and those who make them; those who buy cars and those who sell them.”
Mulvaney’s vision means an end to “regulation by enforcement,” with a greater focus on solid rulemaking, he said.
“On regulation, it seems that the people we regulate should have the right to know what the rules are before being charged with breaking them,” he wrote.
The acting director went on to express a desire to use the bureau’s power more sparingly in the future, promising not to “go looking for excuses to bring lawsuits” and using enforcement levers only when its staff can identify “quantifiable and unavailable harm to the consumer.”
“If a company closes its doors under the weight of a multi-year Civil Investigative Demand, we still have jobs at CFPB,” Mulvaney wrote. “But what about the workers who are laid off as a result?”
Mulvaney also indicated a desire to focus primarily on the most prevalent types of consumer issues, noting that debt collection accounted for a third of complaints in 2016 — while products such as prepaid debit cards and payday loans, two recent CFPB targets, represented just 0.9% and 2%, respectively.
The bureau drew the ire of reverse mortgage professionals last year when it issued a warning against using the loans to defer Social Security payments in retirement. During the CFPB’s existence, reverse mortgage complaints have accounted for about 5% of all mortgage-related issues reported by older Americans, according to a 2017 report.
Mulvaney, who also serves as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, replaced Cordray in November, after the former director resigned to pursue the Democratic nomination for Ohio governor. The acting director remains entangled in a leadership struggle with deputy director Leanne English, who has claimed that she is Cordray’s rightful successor.
Read Mulvaney’s full piece — subscription required — at the Wall Street Journal.
Written by Alex Spanko