CFPB critics complain that Bureau is political after fighting to subject it to the political branches

When Congress created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, it tried to insulate it from the political branches. Critics of the Bureau have fought to eliminate that insulation. For example, industry actors asserted that the president should have the power to fire the CFPB director without cause, a position that the Supreme Court agreed with in Seila Law. The result is that the Bureau director now reports to the president, a politically-elected official, just as, for example, members of the cabinet do, rendering the CFPB subject to presidential politics. But the Bureau’s critics now seem unhappy with what they wrought. Thus, during opening statements in the House Financial Services Committee’s hearing on the CFPB last week, Committee Chair McHenry, described the Bureau as a “hyperpartisan agency doing the bidding of the White House” and Subcomittee Chair Barr called the Bureau a “partisan regulator.” Ironically, the efforts to strip the CFPB of insulation from the political branches continues, in the form of the CFSA case, which the Supreme Court heard earlier this year. If CFPB critics kvetch when they see the Bureau as not accountable to the political branches, and also kvetch when they win a victory that makes the Bureau more accountable to the political branches, it is difficult to resist the conclusion that the real basis of their angst is something that has nothing to do with accountability, but rather an ideological objection to the Bureau’s very existence.

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