Should one unelected bureaucrat have almost dictatorial powers over our personal financial choices?
Most would say that doesn’t sound American, but unfortunately, I’m referring to the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Created in good faith following the financial crisis, CFPB has slowed the economy and hurt job growth through excessive rules.
CFPB’s fatal flaw is a lack of accountability. The agency, which determines your choices for checking accounts, the fees on your mortgage or car loan and what type of credit card offers you can receive, is led by a single director who is accountable to no one. Not even the president can fire the CFPB director, except for an “egregious act.”
With no oversight, CFPB bureaucrats are free to dream up whatever
big government, Washington regulations they want. Meanwhile, these
same CFPB bureaucrats are spending your money on luxury offices and high salaries.
For example, the CFPB spent $200 million on luxury renovations for their leased office space, including a two-story waterfall, a four-story glass staircase and a “timber porch” where bureaucrats can relax while thinking up new rules. The average total compensation for a CFPB bureaucrat is $180,000 per year, and growing at roughly 30 percent annually.
How does this impact you?
Small businesses and entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of our economy, creating over half of all new jobs. However, excessive CFPB regulations have made it more difficult for small businesses to get loans to grow and create well-paying jobs. FDIC data shows small business loans are down 1.5 percent from pre-crisis levels, and commercial loans under $1 million have fallen 14 percent. Local bank leaders tell me they now hire more compliance officers than loan officers, as filling out forms for bureaucrats has become more important than growing the economy. We are losing the community banks that support small business expansion and job growth.
The CFPB is also making it harder for consumers to access financial services. Prior to the creation of CFPB, the average monthly account balance needed to qualify for free checking was $250. Now, that requirement has risen to $750, on average. Only two new commercial banks were created in 2016, down from 228 the year before the recession. The number of Americans without a bank account has risen by half a million.
Does this mean we should do away with regulation, or with the CFPB? No. Regulations are necessary for an orderly society and economy, and consumers should be protected. However, when the total economic cost of Washington’s regulations on ordinary Americans and businesses totals $2 trillion per year, we need to restore common sense.
As your Representative on the House Financial Services Committee, I’m working to pass the Financial CHOICE Act, which would create accountability for the CFPB and replace the “financial dictator” with a bipartisan committee. The Financial CHOICE Act would also increase penalties for financial fraud, end Wall Street bailouts and make it easier for small community banks to serve the needs of local customers.
Sadly, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has done the most harm to low-income, minority Americans and small businesses. We need to restore common sense to Washington’s regulatory structure, returning power to ordinary Americans, ensuring access to competitive financial services and respecting your right to make free and informed choices.