WASHINGTON – I am an unrepentant advocate for the Consumer Financial Protection Office, which was created in the wake of a paralyzing financial crisis that I fear is becoming a distant memory.
But we have to remember: It was not long ago when financial institutions did some funky things that pushed us into the Great Recession.
Now the agency designed to protect consumers – yes, sometimes even from themselves – is a disaster.
The director of the CFPB, Richard Cordray, resigned last week, and there has been a fierce struggle to see who will temporarily occupy his place until a permanent leader is nominated and confirmed.
President Donald Trump appointed Mick Mulvaney as acting director, although Mulvaney already has another working day as head of the Office of Management and Budget. Trump's motives seem clear: to weaken the agency by sending Mulvaney, a former congressman who voted to abolish the agency.
Leandra English, who was appointed interim director by Cordray shortly before he left office, filed a lawsuit on Sunday to stop Mulvaney's appointment. On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled against her. Your lawyer is now reflecting on additional legal steps.
This battle for CFPB's leadership is like watching the derailment of a train. But make no mistake, we are also on this train. It is our interest that will be cast aside when the train stops slipping.
If the federal judge's ruling against the Englishman remains, the CFPB under the current administration will not be what it was intended to be: a tough consumer advocate.
"Anyone who thinks that a CFPB of the Trump administration would be the same as a CFPB of the Obama administration is simply being naive," he said during a press conference. "Elections have consequences."
Despite the opponents, the CFPB is like a crusader with a cape that is in the way of predatory practices. At the most basic level, the agency is working to ensure that the financial industry properly informs you about the products and services that are sold to you. However, the agency has been vilified from the first day for this mission by the Republicans. Here are the two main arguments in favor of derailing the CFPB.
Companies can not earn enough money with consumers . Mulvaney has already issued a 30-day freeze on new regulations. Your reason: to make sure there is no "choking" on financial services.
Think about this for a minute. Not even a week at work and Mulvaney is putting the interests of the companies above the consumers.
We are already a nation of debtors. That is part of the reason why we fell into a recession. Everyone and his mother could get a loan.
Some argue that mom should get the loan she wants. It is your choice. Except that we all pay when people are charged a debt they can not pay. Surely he has not forgotten the rescue of Wall Street?
Congress can not control agency budget . The CFPB's funding comes from the Federal Reserve, and was created in that way to deliberately avoid partisan meddling and influence peddling by the financial industry, which the agency is entrusted to the police.
The crusade against the CFPB has become so smart that I receive emails like this from a reader: "If I understand it correctly, are you advocating for Uncle Sam to tell an adult woman what he can or can not buy with your own money? If the lender is sincere and the woman is in her right mind, the government should remain silent. "
There was no doubt about that "yes". Some companies were not and are not.
It was state and federal oversight that finally caught up with Wells Fargo, which was discovered to have opened millions of unauthorized bank and credit card accounts.
The CFPB is not telling people what they can do with their money. It simply makes sure that companies clearly reveal the information that people need to make better financial decisions.
Aside from partisan politics, remember why the agency came about. It was part of the Dodd-Frank Act and was aimed at observing the rules governing credit cards, mortgages, student loans and other financial products aimed at consumers. We need a superhero to get us back on track.
In a Monday tweet, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights wrote: "If the 2008 financial crisis showed us anything, it is that consumers need and deserve a strong and independent regulator to take care of interests. of US consumers. #DefendCFPB "
Readers can write to Michelle Singletary c / o The Washington Post, 1301 K St., NW, Washington, DC 20071. Your email address is email@example.com.