The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB") will solicit public input on how best to fulfill its proper and appropriate functions in order to protect consumers.
The requests for public input will come in a series of Requests for Information ("RFIs") covering enforcement, supervision, rulemaking, market monitoring and education activities. Acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney asserted that the CFPB's new leadership intends to "critically examine its policies and practices to ensure they align with the [CFPB]'s statutory mandate." He said that the RFIs will help the CFPB to take action to "facilitate greater consumer choice and efficient markets, while vigorously enforcing consumer law in a way that guarantees due process."
The first RFI will invite comment on Civil Investigative Demands, which are requests for information that are issued during enforcement actions.
As a practical matter, the CFPB is now under the control of the Executive Branch. Given that the Democrats are not enthusiastic about that fact, and that Republicans have been arguing that the CFPB operates outside of the bounds of the Constitution, now would be an excellent time for the two parties to agree on fixing the agency's structure. It could be made either into an "independent agency" with representatives from both parties sitting on a commission, or an agency responsible to the Executive. The current structure, under which the head of the CFPB seems to be responsible to no one, is unacceptable. Any implication that a departing agency head on his death bed may appoint a successor should be given the quietus.
To the extent that there are legislators who are disappointed that the CFPB is now about to make a radical turn in direction, unchecked by any dissenting voices, a review of the legislation creating the CFPB is in order. Consider that under the law as drafted, the current President is entitled to appoint the next CFPB chair, who would have a five-year term, regardless of who wins the next election. Such an appointee would be impossible to dismiss. Depending on your political/economic beliefs, you might be happy with the end result, or disappointed, but no one should be happy with the process by which the result is effected, or satisfied with the specter of an agency whose head is legally responsible to no other branch of government.
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