The Communication Workers of America (CWA) has denounced President Trump’s attempt on behalf of Wall Street to take control of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
CFPB is the federal agency created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to protect consumers against the predatory practices of Wall Street banks.
Those practices led to the Great Recession, which cost millions of workers their jobs, their homes, and their livelihoods.
President Trump on November 24 appointed Mick Mulvaney, a longtime opponent of CFPB, as the acting head of the agency after CFPB Director Richard Cordray resigned.
Mulvaney, who is also the director of Trump’s Office of Management and Budget, sponsored legislation to abolish CFPB when he was a member of Congress.
There is, however, a dispute about Mulvaney’s claim of leadership at CFPB.
According to the Dodd-Frank Act, the law that created CFPB, the agency’s deputy director becomes the acting director when the director is unavailable to serve.
Leandra English is the deputy director and assumed leadership of the agency when Cordray resigned.
English has gone to court seeking a temporary restraining order to block Mulvaney’s appointment.
“The leadership battle at the CFPB is part of a larger struggle over whether our country will return to the days when big Wall Street banks could act with impunity and without accountability,” said Chris Shelton, president of CWA in a media release.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, enacted in 2010, established protections meant to stop Wall Street from indulging in questionable financial practices that put the whole economy at risk.
It also protects consumers from unlawful business practices such as the ones carried out by Wells Fargo when the bank enrolled customers in high-cost banking services that customers neither wanted nor agreed to purchase.
“The CFPB has returned over $12 billion to American consumers harmed by Wall Street wrongdoing and has helped to expose the illegal actions of such corporate bad actors as Wells Fargo and Santander,” Shelton said. “The CFPB gives bank employees who are concerned about potentially illegal high-pressure sales tactics a way to voice their concerns without having to navigate a maze of regulatory agencies.”
To maintain CFPB’s integrity, Dodd-Frank established rules of succession for replacing CFPB’s director with an acting director should the director resign.
Those rules say that the deputy director, who is Leandra English, becomes the acting director until the president appoints a new director and the appointment is confirmed by the Senate.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who was instrumental in creating the CFPB, told the New York Times that the CFPB succession rules were expressly written to ensure that the agency remains independent of the powerful political influence of Wall Street.
“The agency was built to be as far away from partisan politics as humanly possible — including exactly what Donald Trump is doing now,” said Warren to the Times. “The DNA of this agency is to work for America’s families and to stand up to big Wall Street banks. Mick Mulvaney wants to work for Wall Street banks and step on American families.”
Shelton accused President Trump of “flagrantly flouting the law in an attempt to give Wall Street banks the green light to again rip off American working families.”
“Trump’s attempt to install Mick Mulvaney as acting CFPB director violates the clear language of the Dodd-Frank Act prohibiting him from doing so,” added Shelton.
President Trump justified his appointment of Mulvaney by citing the Vacancies Act of 1998, which gives the president the authority to appoint acting heads of agencies when a director’s position is vacant and the permanent director must be approved by the Senate.
English, on the other hand, argues that she is the legitimate head of CFPB because the law creating the agency clearly spells out the rules of succession that differ from the Vacancy Act.
Shelton said that Wall Street already has too much power in Washington and shouldn’t be allowed to take over the only agency that has actually stood up to it.
“Consumers need an independent CFPB,” Shelton said. “Wall Street already has enough friends in Washington.”