Mulvaney Promises Change in Skinny New CFPB Report

Writing in the first semi-annual report to Congress issued under his leadership, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau acting director Mick Mulvaney continued to lay out his vision for a leaner, more hands-off agency.

“Congress enumerated nine elements for inclusion in the bureau’s semi-annual reports to Congress,” Mulvaney wrote. “This semi-annual report precisely meets this mandate.”

Clocking in at just 56 pages, the report lays out lists of various initiatives the CFPB completed or will be exploring in the coming year, along with data about consumer complaints; mortgage-related issues accounted for 13% of issues reported in fiscal 2017, good for third place behind debt collection and credit or consumer reporting.


Mulvaney’s first report pales in comparison to the final one issued under the stewardship of former director Richard Cordray, which spanned 179 pages and included far more in-depth analysis of the bureau’s activities over the previous six months.

“Through fair rules, consistent oversight, appropriate enforcement of the law, and broad-based consumer engagement, the Bureau is helping restore American families’ trust in consumer financial markets,” Cordray wrote in the introduction to that report, released last June.

The current acting director, meanwhile, blasted his own department in his first report at the helm.

“As has been evident since the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act, the bureau is far too powerful, and with precious little oversight of its activities,” Mulvaney wrote, going on to decry the director’s role as “a one-man legislature” and “an appellate judge presiding over the bureau’s in-house court-like adjudications.”

Mulvaney called on Congress to make four key changes to the CFPB’s structure:

  • Make the bureau’s funding subject to Congressional appropriations
  • Subject rulemaking to legislative approval
  • “Ensure that the director answers to the president in the exercise of executive authority”
  • Establish an independent inspector general position to oversee the bureau

That third bullet most likely refers to the palace intrigue that has befallen the agency in recent months, with deputy director Leandra English waging a battle to take over Mulvaney’s spot. The question revolves around the as-yet-untested constitutional issue over whether the president can appoint an acting director, or if the deputy assumes the role after a resignation.

Cordray left the CFPB last year in order to pursue the Democratic nomination for Ohio governor; President Trump appointed Mulvaney over the objections of English and multiple prominent Democrats. The D.C. Circuit will hear an appeal in her ongoing legal battle against the administration on April 12.

In the meantime, Mulvaney again had a chance to steer the bureau in his preferred direction.

“The best that any bureau director can do on his own is to fulfill his responsibilities with humility and prudence, and to temper his decisions with the knowledge that the power he wields could all too easily be used to harm consumers, destroy businesses, or arbitrarily remake American financial markets,” he wrote.

Written by Alex Spanko

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  • I am glad to hear Mick Mulvaney blasting his own department. A strong hand in control of the CFPB is needed more than ever and long over due!

    Since the passage of the Dodd-Frank bill and the establishment of the CFPB our entire financial system has been in a turmoil.

    Obama opened up a can of worms that has created a tremendous amount of havoc with small community banks, mortgage lending operations, the secondary market and you name it!

    The worst thing is the amount of autonomy the CFPB has over our financial industry and I am sorry to say this but Cordray abused his power and the powers granted to the CFPB.

    Many of the rulings implemented in our industry were instigated by the CFPB, I reemphasize this in saying, instigated by the CFPB!

    Drastic change can’t come quick enough as far as I am concerned!

    John A. Smaldone

    • John,

      I am no fan of the CFPB or Richard Cordray but where do you get the CFPB instigated changes to HECMs and which changes are you talking about?

      All the major changes coming from HUD since March 31, 2013 dealt with the MMI Fund except for the non-borrowing spouse changes which had to do with the lawsuits instigated by AARP.

      The specific MMI Fund related changes are:

      1) 4/1/2013 — the end of the fixed rate Standard

      2) 9/30/2013 — the end of all Savers and the adjustable rate Standard along with a restructuring of the Standard that essentially makes it look and act like more an expensive Saver including a bifurcated upfront MIP structure and a first year disbursements limitation rule.

      3) 4/27/2015 — Financial Assessment — Pragmatically more of what some call a lender demand than having a substantial impact on the MMI Fund.

      4) 10/2/2017 — Lower PLFs and restructured upfront and ongoing MIP rates that will put more emphasis on getting more MIP funds into the MMI Fund earlier in the life of a HECM.

      It is the HUD of the Obama years that tampered with the HECM creating the mess we have today. While a higher lending limit was needed, everything else it did culminated their era with a HECM that more resembles a costly Saver than the HECM of early January 2009. The Obama HUD messed so much with the HECM that the HUD of the Trump Administration concluded it must restructure MIP and lower Principal Limit Factors.

      I cannot reconcile how the CFPB instigated any of that.

      • George,

        I can only tell you this at this time. Since the Dodd-Frank bill came into effect in 2010 and the CFPB emerged out of it, the CFPB has influenced many decisions within our entire financial industry. Including, FHA, HUD, FNMA, small community banks and you name it.

        Give me a call when you can, I would love to talk to you further about it, besides I would like to meet you formally any way. My number is, 865-980-3583.

        I appreciate your come back by the way, you and your family have a good weekend for yourselves.


      • John,

        Unfortunately I did not see your reply before the weekend. I hope your family had a great one.

        Your response is vague. I would like to specifically what change any regulator has made to HECMs that have been influenced by the CFPB. I just don’t even get a vibe in that direction other than there seems to be a strong bias in Senator Warren against all reverse mortgages (some of her former colleagues had warned me about that) with which I am sure she had tried to sway Director Cordray. There was nothing that the Director did with HUD or others which have changed HECMs in the least otherwise both you and I could his influence.

      • George,

        We did have a good weekend, thank you, hope you did as well!

        I know my response was vague, purposely. However, I would be happy to talk to you about it further if you would like to call me.

        Give me a call, we need to say hi to one another any way!

        Thanks George,


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