2017-12-03 —

The legal fight over the future of the CFPB began on Cordray's last day in office, when he ventured into another gray area to try to put English, his chief of staff, in charge of the bureau until Trump can get a permanent director confirmed. But the policy fight will continue long after the legal fight is settled. The White House is clearly eager to dismantle a pocket of liberal resistance inside Trump's Washington, even though polls suggest that the public overwhelmingly supports the bureau's work. It's only been in existence for six years, but its early leaders have tried to make it dismantle-proof.


Cordray's final defeat was the congressional repeal of his "forced arbitration rule," which would have ensured that consumers could sue financial firms in court rather than getting locked into mandatory arbitration proceedings. He even wrote a letter begging Trump to veto the bill, to prevent American families from getting "cheated out of their hard-earned money and left helpless to fight back." But despite campaigning as a populist, Trump has governed as a corporatist, and gleefully signed the repeal in front of bank lobbyists and Republican lawmakers, while venting about Cordray's hostility to business.

Congress may strike down another Cordray rule shaking up the high-interest payday lending industry. But financial leaders say their real hope for the Trump era at the bureau is a less antagonistic approach to supervision and enforcement. They would also like to see Mulvaney remove its complaint database from public view, so that companies are no longer tarred by allegations without due process. They say the aggression of the CFPB has made consumer credit more expensive and less efficient, forcing lenders to invest in lawyers and compliance officers and then pass the costs along to their customers.


one thing you don't hear financial leaders say anymore is that the CFPB should be abolished, even though they once warned that its creation would cripple financial services in America. The Wall Street reform law of 2010 transferred authorities from seven federal agencies over 18 consumer protection laws to the CFPB, and it's hard to imagine how they could be transferred back. The critics complain about the way the bureau is structured, and its adversarial approach to business, but they no longer clamor for its demise.

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