There is a great deal of inertia in government, and opportunities to reform existing institutions only come around every so often – remarkably the stars have aligned, and we have hopefully arrived at just such a moment for the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (the bureau).
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness (CCMC) has long been a leading voice, calling for change to the bureau, and in March we released a report, outlining a series of recommendations for reform. Since Acting Director Mick Mulvaney took the reins of the bureau six months ago, he has made a concerted effort to make the agency more mature, accountable, and transparent. In his first report to Congress, he recommended four statutory changes to the bureau, and the bureau has also released 12 Requests for Information to conduct an audit of the agency. These are great first steps, and we look forward to working with policymakers to implement our recommendations which will benefit both Americans and the economy
Americans’ sentiment is in agreement with a policy of change at the bureau as well. When polled, an overwhelming majority (66%) preferred the current approach of writing rules rather than the previous administration’s rulemaking by enforcement.
So what’s left to do? It’s time to make these changes happen, working with lawmakers and the bureau to sort out the details. Yesterday, I highlighted concrete actions the bureau can take to do just that.
Testifying before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, I discussed a number of ideas including reforming the bureau’s approach to external engagement with industry stakeholders and addressing concerns about its complaint database – two issues for which CCMC has recently submitted comments to the bureau.
At yesterday’s hearing, Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA) asserted the subcommittee’s intention that the bureau should continue to ensure consumers are afforded protection, and he queried whether placing it under appropriations would compromise this goal. To that question I answered:
I do not think placing the Bureau under appropriations would harm consumer protections. The rules are on the books, and Mr. Mulvaney has made it clear he’s a steward of the law, he will execute the rules fairly and accurately. Having oversight over the Bureau would, in the long term, be a benefit for everyone.
And I reinforced the point that circumstances are now ripe for change, and if we miss out on this opportunity, it will be to the detriment of both consumers and businesses:
With new leadership there is the opportunity to make the Bureau a more mature, transparent, and accountable agency… Only with this approach will the Bureau adequately serve and protect consumers, while still promoting a competitive and transparent marketplace that fosters access to credit to all consumers.
Government, industry, and consumers alike have the appetite to make improvements to the bureau, and the U.S. Chamber is committed to working with Congress and the bureau to get the reform agenda right. This summer, we have the opportunity to contribute to the bureau’s audit on behalf of U.S. Chamber members, and we won’t miss a single chance. We encourage you to check back to read our comments throughout the summer here.