Is the Consumer Watchdog Doomed?

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Some Republicans are trying to stop the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from operating, despite the protections and money it's won back for wronged consumers.

A New York Times editorial (i.e., opinionated argument, not straight reporting) says it might be…

The consumer bureau was enacted by law, and now Republicans are using backdoor methods to destroy it. There is no greater argument for Senate Democrats to ban filibusters of presidential nominees, particularly when the future of an entire agency is at stake.

We’ve written a lot about what the CFPB has done for consumers so far, and the accomplishments the NYT article mentions aren’t the half of it. Here are some of them:

On top of that, they had a budget surplus of $44 million as of January.

But all this progress might be literally undone by Congressional Republicans. For example, challenging the agency’s director, former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray.

Republicans wouldn’t support his nomination in the first place (nor the first choice, now-Senator Elizabeth Warren, who worked hard to get the agency off the ground), so President Obama used a “recess appointment” – making the decision when Congress is not in session – to put him to work a year ago.

But there’s a time limit on how long he can operate without Congress’ approval, and on top of that the legality of his appointment is being challenged in court. If it’s overturned, all the changes he’s made may also be wiped out as illegal. And if Republicans won’t support another nominee, the agency won’t be able to operate. 43 Senate Republicans have vowed to do exactly that unless the agency is revamped to be run more directly by Congress.

Yes, pretty much the same dysfunctional Congress that was ranked in December as the least-liked and least-effective ever, although there were at least some new faces were sworn in this year.

Stacy Johnson

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