people reported to work at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
on November 27, both expecting to lead the bureau. Leandra English,
who had been chief of staff to former Director Richard Cordray (he
resigned before Thanksgiving to return to Ohio to run for governor),
was appointed to the director position by her old boss.
Simultaneously, 45 appointed Mick Mulvaney, head of the Office of
Management and Budget, to hold the job. Reportedly, Mulvaney arrived
at the office bright and early Monday morning, carrying a bag of
donuts. Both Mulvaney and English sent memos to the entire staff
asserting their leadership. Mulvaney rolled his sleeves up and got
to work at an agency he had previously ridiculed. English headed to
court to assert the right to her job.
here comes the trick bag. Leandra English found herself in Judge
Timothy Kelly’s courtroom. The judge, in the US District
Court, was appointed by 45. Is there any coincidence that English
did not prevail in her suit? Mulvaney is right when he says that
anyone who expected the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to
operate the same way under 45 as it did under President Obama.
“Elections have consequence,” he crowed. With that smug
bragging, he illustrates why other relatively (I use the word
advisedly) principled Republicans put up with 45 and his antics.
While too many of us are focused on 45’s foolish antics,
flippant verbal attacks, and downright dangerous international
behavior, the “Buffoon-in-Chief” and the Senate are
quietly packing the courts. 45 is moving faster than President
Obama, Bush, Clinton, and Bush have, with as many as 200 positions
already filled. Further, 45 is appointing younger and more
conservative jurists than ever before. Kelley, for example, is in
his late 40s.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was established by the Dodd
Frank legislation of 2010, the Congressional reaction to the horrible
abuses that banks engaged in to cause the Great Recession. It
regulates the rules relating to mortgages, credit cards, insurance,
and other financial instruments. It is the only agency that stands
in the gap for consumers, the only one that has the ability to stand
up to banks and force them to be responsible. In its short
existence, tens of millions of dollars have been returned to
consumers, and thousands of bad actors have been outed on the CFPB
election of 45 put this agency’s integrity in jeopardy because
his election was the triumph of predatory capitalism. While 45 swore
he was for the working class, which was campaign mumbo-jumbo.
Instead, he always planned to gut the agency that was unpopular with
Congressional Republicans, and the preponderance of bankers in his
cabinet certainly guarantees the agency’s destruction. But the
court’s swift finding against Leandra English reminds us that
we can expect to find the tenets of predatory capitalism and consumer
exploitation to be upheld by these newly packed courts.
appointments have generated little attention. On at least one
occasion, the American Bar Association described a nominee as
“unqualified”, something that they rarely do. On another
occasion a man who has a law degree but who has never tried a case
was nominated as a judge. Really? Less than political patronage, 45
is systematically presiding over a massive ideological shift in our
nation. It’s a trick bag, one that many did not anticipate.
who care about the protections we need against big banks and credit
card companies need to write their elected representatives and urge
them to strengthen the legislation that authorized the CFPB. And,
progressive lawyers must pay more attention to these flawed judicial
appointments that 45 is making. These are absolutely frightening
times, with 45 running amok at the People’s House at 1600
Pennsylvania Avenue. He is running amok, and his foolishness is
guaranteed to generate commentary and revulsion. But we can’t
be so absorbed by the foolishness that we ignore what he is doing
with the courts.