Mick Mulvaney may have left the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau four months ago and may have only worked part-time at the agency for 13 months, but his legacy is being felt in many important ways, according to a lengthy analysis published today by The New York Times.
Specifically detailing his handling of a proposed rule governing payday lending, the report looks at how Mulvaney turned what was considered to be one of the “most feared financial” regulators and turned it into “an agency whose very mission is now a matter of bitter dispute.”
Contradicting how Mulvaney said he would use data to drive enforcement actions at the CFPB, the Times notes that the agency has brought only one case against a debt collector, even though the collections industry accounts “for more complaints to the CFPB than almost any other industry.”
The report goes into great detail into many of the decisions made by Mulvaney during his tenure running the CFPB and how those decisions affected staffers, regulatory actions, and the mission of the agency.
Mulvaney’s careful campaign of deconstruction offers a case study in the Trump administration’s approach to transforming Washington, one in which strategic neglect and bureaucratic self-sabotage create versions of agencies that seem to run contrary to their basic premises. According to one person who speaks with Mulvaney often, his smooth subdual of the CFPB was part of his pitch to Trump for his promotion to White House chief of staff — long one of the most powerful jobs in Washington. Mulvaney’s slow-rolling attack on the bureau’s enforcement and regulatory powers wasn’t just one of the Trump era’s most emblematic assaults on the so-called administrative state. It was also, in part, an audition.
“The bureau was constructed really deliberately to protect ordinary people,” says Lisa Donner, the head of Americans for Financial Reform. “He’s taken it apart — dismantled it, piece by piece, brick by brick.”