In a move that was shocking only in its tardiness, Richard Cordray has announced that he will give up trying to run the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau under the Trump regime.
Cordray taking off to run for Governor of Ohio think things over leaves a gaping hole a the top of an agency that seems almost laughably out of place in this new government. Everything the CFPB stands for goes against the "Don't let us stop you" regulatory ethos of the Trump administration and this Congress. Cordray was a true believer hand-picked by Elizabeth Warren to fill in the nooks and crannies of what Dodd-Frank somehow missed. Critics say that the agency is a liberal overreach and inherently anti-business, and many of those critics have Trump's ear. Therefore it stands to reason that this White House will kill the CFPB from the inside out, like it has started to do with the Departments Interior, State, Education and the EPA.
And lucky for the West Wing, there's a mechanism for that. When Obama was waiting for Cordray to be confirmed, he basically let Tim Geithner act as a caretaker at the CFPB. That gives Trump precedent to let Steve Mnuchin take over the CFPB on in interim basis, a notion similar to letting Roy Moore run a sex crimes division. Mnuchin's career is essentially what the CFPB was created to stop, and letting him run it for any period of time is a nightmare come true for anyone who has ever even vaguely supported the CFPB's mere existence.
But according to Bloomberg, Trump is contemplating letting another favored lieutenant take the reigns at CFPB; His demure and bipartisan OMB director, Mick Mulvaney. And in case you were wondering, letting Mulvaney take care of the CFPB is like letting your friend who "doesn't believe in water" take care of your plants when you go on vacation.
Just ask him:
Mick Mulvaney once called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “a sad, sick joke.” Now, he may get to oversee Elizabeth Warren’s favorite regulator.
Mulvaney, President Donald Trump’s Office of Management and Budget director, is being considered for a temporary role as interim director of the consumer watchdog after Richard Cordray steps down later this month, according to two people familiar with the matter. Mulvaney would be expected to name someone else or a team of people to run the CFPB.
Spoiler Alert: He's not going to name a team.
Either of these options is just a passive-aggressive attempt by the Trump administration to let the CFPB atrophy and die away, giving the new look SEC a chance to not go after anyone doing naughty shit on Wall Street. But we say, why be so coy?
You guys, disgraced former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo is just sitting around somewhere in Florida, living out his days in relative luxury thanks to a personal wealth created by engaging in the kind of fraud that the CFPB was designed to prevent. Why not nominate that lovable old lizard to run the CFPB and watch him actively tear the thing down. Hey, he might even find a way to work with The Fed and turn the CFPB into a government-sponsored payday lending operation. Maybe they could even do peer-to-peer mortgages!
Trump has a chance to do what Cordray never could with the CFPB: Think big.