Jay Ambrose: CFPB fight & rolling back administrative state
Goodbye, liberty; goodbye, democracy; goodbye, limited government — and hello, administrative state. A mishmash of countless federal agencies dictates how we live with little if any reference to rights and constitutional safeguards. And that brings us to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
It happens to be in the headlines now because the Trump administration is in the process of saving us from its contribution to this leftist, destructive authoritarianism that Democrats persistently embrace.
This super-powerful agency well represents their vision of a New America that has been emerging for quite awhile but was grotesquely amplified under the presidency of Barack Obama. In this instance, there was jubilant assistance from Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
When the Dodd-Frank financial reform law was sadly being created, this Democrat from Massachusetts fought for the legislation to include an agency encompassing her deepest dreams. Avoiding special-interest politics, it would have investigative, regulatory and juridical powers. The purpose sounded good: Bureaucratic magnificoes would prevent fraud by financial services in advertising, contractual language or other sneakiness.
But what the agency actually avoided was accountability to the American people. It dubiously got its funding from the Federal Reserve, meaning Congress had a smaller handle on waywardness. Oversight? Ha! Time and again, even with the virtual imprisonment of a free-enterprise activity, the agency did not provide Congress with the information requested.
It was, however, as political as political gets, signing on Democrats with Republicans not even considered, according to one whistleblower. It paid some $45 million in contracts for advertising and research to an advertising agency that played a central role in Obama's presidential campaigns, the Daily Caller reported. Its employees donated $50,000 to Democrat candidates.
The agency's chief, someone initially appointed illegally to his job by Obama, is stepping down and himself illegally told the deputy director to take over. An excuse was that the law establishing the agency said the deputy director should fill in when the director was absent or unavailable.
It did not say, however, that that person should grab the reins when the top spot was vacated. President Donald Trump clearly had the replacement prerogative and chose Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, as acting CFPB director. The deputy director, still dwelling in the agency's state of confusion, filed a lawsuit against the move and a judge said, in so many words, “Are you kidding?!”
Mulvaney's mission is to inhibit new malfunctions, one small but vital step against an administrative state. We live in a swamp of often illicit regulations, and there are so many no one can know what they all are, enforce them or even count them. Some contradict each other; they affect things big and tiny, and are executed by scores of federal agencies.
Federal roles constitutionally reserved for the legislative and judicial branches of government have been usurped, but Congress, which has helped facilitate a lot of this, is beginning to fight back, as is the Trump administration through regulation rollbacks and other means.
Do your job, Mulvaney — and hallelujah.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service.