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Trib editorial: Consumer bureau's mess makes case for reform

| Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, 8:57 p.m.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at a rally outside the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau headquarters in Washington on Tuesday. The group was protesting President Donald Trump's appointment of Mick Mulvaney as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's acting director. (AP Photo | Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at a rally outside the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau headquarters in Washington on Tuesday. The group was protesting President Donald Trump's appointment of Mick Mulvaney as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's acting director. (AP Photo | Manuel Balce Ceneta)

This week's fight over who rightfully should be the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau exposed what is at its core a constitutionally dysfunctional government agency.

Reportedly on his last day in office, former CFPB Director Richard Cordray appointed his chief of staff, Leandra English, to serve as deputy director. Her supporters argue that the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform act that created the CFPB specifies that the deputy shall “serve as acting director” in the director's absence.

When President Trump named budget director Mick Mulvaney to be the CFPB's acting director, liberals went ballistic, Ms. English went to court, and a federal judge ruled in the president's favor. English's lawyer said afterward that she's considering her options.

Never mind that a panel of judges on the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals last year ruled that the agency's leadership structure is, in itself, unconstitutional — which the CFPB has appealed.

“There is simply no good structural, logical or constitutional reason why the dead hand of President Barack Obama's administration should continue to guide the CFPB once Cordray is gone,” writes Noah Feldman, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard University.

What unfolded was but a snapshot of a hot mess devised by liberals and insulated from public criticism. From its internal organization to its unbridled authority over lending institutions, the CFPB cries out for thorough congressional reform.

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