The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, founded by Elizabeth Warren prior to her career as a senator, was once the gem of the US political system, a consistently effective force for punishing finance industry wrongdoing, until Trump let Wall Street robber barons loose on it, under the direction of a lawyer who represented loan sharks before going to work for the Trump administration.
Now, the CFPB has signaled its intention to cancel the new rules limiting the worst behavior of the payday lending industry, a $50,000,000,000 force who will be able to go on charging 300% APR interest to people borrowing from paycheck to paycheck. The rules were scheduled to go into effect next August.
The CFPB has also dropped action against payday lenders who were caught charging 1000% interest.
The agency is now under the direction of Trump appointee Mick Mulvaney, who has changed its mission from serving as "a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules" to helping "consumer finance markets work by regularly identifying and addressing outdated, unnecessary or unduly burdensome regulations."
On Wednesday, the bureau invited businesses to submit their thoughts on whether the agency "is fulfilling its proper and appropriate functions to best protect consumers." In other words, it wants to know which rules and enforcement practices should be discarded next.
Mulvaney said in a statement that "it is natural for the bureau to critically examine its policies and practices," and that officials are seeking "constructive feedback" and "ideas for improvement."
"Much can be done to facilitate greater consumer choice and efficient markets, while vigorously enforcing consumer financial law in a way that guarantees due process," he said.
In bizarre reversal under Trump, consumer agency reveals moves to protect payday lenders [David Lazarus/LA Times]