Agency Formed to Protect Consumers Now Focused on ‘Burdensome Regulations’

sign outside of consumer financial protection bureau
Adam Fagen under Creative Commons

When the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created after the 2008 financial crisis, it had one job: protect the American public from unfair or abusive practices by financial institutions.

It was designed to be a powerful agency whose sole purpose was to look out for the little guy. It did that by filing lawsuits, levying massive fines and proposing new regulations on banks, payday lenders, subprime lenders and student loan servicers.

But following a major leadership shake-up last month, a notable change has come to the agency’s core mission.

Before White House budget director and CFPB opponent Mick Mulvaney took over the agency, its mission was to help “consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives.”

That was posted on the agency’s website and at the bottom of press releases the agency issued since at least 2012.

Since Mulvaney’s arrival, the mission has changed to this:

“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by regularly identifying and addressing outdated, unnecessary, or unduly burdensome regulations, by making rules more effective, by consistently enforcing federal consumer financial law, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives.”

Since its inception, the CFPB has been a supporter of financial regulation that protected consumers, so changing those few words could signal that fundamental changes to how the CFPB does its job are on the horizon.

This is among the first visible changes to come since Mulvaney took over as acting director, a position that Deputy Director Leandra English filed a lawsuit to prevent him from taking.

But this change shouldn’t be surprising since Mulvaney, when he represented South Carolina in the House of Representatives, was one of 65 Republicans who co-sponsored a failed bill to kill the CFPB in 2015.

Although Mulvaney is in a position to make major changes at the CFPB, his position is not permanent. He will be out once President Trump chooses and Congress confirms a new director.

Desiree Stennett (@desi_stennett) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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