White House says it will nominate Kraninger to head CFPB

by Jeff Sovern

Various outlets are reporting that it will be Kraninger.  At least one conservative objects to the appointment.  Here is an except from the WSJ report:

“The nominee is unqualified,” said J.W. Verret, a law professor at George Mason University and former chief economist for Rep. Jeb Hensarling, (R., Texas), head of the House Financial Services Committee.

And Verret was quoted in a Politico report as follows:

“It would be exactly like the Bush administration’s try at Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court and would end the same way,” J.W. Verret . . .  said in an emailed statement about Kraninger.

Not surprisingly, industry officials are giving more favorable quotes. As for Kraininger's experience, the WSJ had more:

At OMB, where she serves as an associate director under Mr. Mulvaney, Ms. Kraninger helps draft the budgets of several cabinet departments, as well as a number of government agencies with combined budgets of about $250 billion—including the CFPB.

“She’s been very involved with those agencies,” a White House official said, adding that she was an “integral part” of the team that helped develop the administration’s agenda on financial matters and other policy issues related to the government organizations in her portfolio.

Ms. Kraninger's absence of a record in consumer financial services is both a positive and a negative from the point of view of confirmation. On the positive side, it means there won't be any prior statements to attack, as would have been the case if the president were to nominate, say, Todd Zywicki. On the other hand, she can be, and obviously already is, being attacked for not having relevant knowledge.

My take: Consumer financial law is an exceedingly complicated field. As someone who has studied, taught, and written about consumer law for more than thirty years, I am constantly amazed at how much more I have to learn about it.  The idea that someone who is new to the subject is taking over what Republicans often call the most powerful position in government, after the president, is frightening. On this one, Verret is right. The helm of the CFPB is no place for on-the-job training.

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