Blog Ipsa Loquitur

Published on under Who Watches the Watchdogs

Here’s one from NPR that’s sad but not necessarily surprising. Trump Administration Plans To Defang Consumer Protection Watchdog:

The CFPB is considered a powerful and independent watchdog. But many Republicans have wanted to shut it down since day one because they think it’s too powerful. [Acting CFPB Director] Mulvaney is one of them. As a Congressman, Mulvaney called the agency a “sick sad joke.” He drafted legislation to abolish it. So people at the bureau were shocked when the president appointed him to run this consumer protection agency.

Within weeks of coming on board, Mulvaney has worked to make the watchdog agency less aggressive. […] In another move that particularly upset some staffers, the new boss also dropped a lawsuit against an alleged online loan shark called Golden Valley Lending. The suit says the lender illegally charges people up to 950 percent interest rates. It took CFPB staffers years to build the case. […]

Mulvaney hasn’t officially offered details about why the case was dropped. Meanwhile, staffers at the bureau say they are worried Mulvaney will block more of their efforts to go after shady financial firms. He’s reviewing numerous ongoing lawsuits and investigations.

So this guy that runs the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau doesn’t like the CFPB, and thinks consumers are already protected well enough. I think companies like Golden Valley shouldn’t be allowed to charge 950% interest. Reasonable minds can disagree, right? Well, this story isn’t as simple as “hey look another market Republicans don’t want to regulate,” although I do continue to be impressed at the breadth of that belief. Rather, the NPR article explains the other shifty things lenders like Golden Valley are doing, and introduces one of the debtors:

For her part, Julie Bonenfant of Detroit still hasn’t paid off her debt to Golden Valley. And she feels “betrayed” by the president, whose appointee dropped the lawsuit.

“To be honest I’m really mad, really pissed, because I actually voted for Trump,” Bonenfant says. “So knowing that his guy threw out this case that affects people like me. I feel kind of like stupid — just kind of like betrayed.”

I do wonder whether these sorts of profiles in buyers’ remorse over the 2016 election are productive or helpful in any way. On the one hand, actions have consequences and if you vote for someone whose policies are going to make your life worse, that’s kind of on you. Trump’s outlandish promises and visible lack of comprehension about just about every issue made him sound like a grifter on the campaign trail.

On the other hand, who could have imagined the guy with the gold-plated Manhattan penthouse wouldn’t stand up for the little guy?

Ah, crap, that was just the same hand again, wasn’t it?