As insideARM reported yesterday, the new balance of power in the House of Representatives likely means Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) will be the next chair of the House Financial Services Committee. Rep. Waters was critical of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection’s (BCFP or Bureau) Acting Director Mick Mulvaney following the resignation of the Bureau’s student loan ombudsman. In an interview with Bloomberg yesterday, Rep. Waters confirmed that she will be focusing on the Bureau.
In the interview, Rep. Waters summarized the 2008 financial crisis, stating that the Bureau is one of the most important centerpieces of Dodd-Frank reform. Rep. Waters praised the Bureau for returning about $12 billion to 30 million consumers and handling over 1.3 million complaints under former director Richard Cordray’s leadership. She stated that the Bureau has been under attack by Republicans and that she is going to “try to do everything [she] can possibly do to undo the harm that Mr. Mulvaney has done.” Rep. Waters criticized Mulvaney's dismissal of the Bureau's advisory committee.
Listening to Rep. Waters’ interview, two things come to mind.
First, the high-level summary of the Bureau’s past actions does not take into account the many complexities within these statistics. For example, there has been some criticism of the Bureau’s complaint database. The Bureau’s complaint portal is a useful tool. However, over-simplification of the data, such as simply stating that 1.3 million complaints were handled under the Bureau’s past leadership, paints an incomplete picture. Interviews such as this are usually time-limited so it may not be practical to dive into the details, but it’s always worth keeping in mind that sound bites don’t provide the full picture.
Second, Rep. Waters touched on Mulvaney disbanding the Bureau’s advisory boards. The way this issue is phrased by Rep. Waters gives the impression that the advisory boards were completely eliminated, which is not the case. The Bureau selected new advisory boards (notably containing no representatives from the debt collection industry) a few months after the old boards were disbanded.
One thing seems certain: we will be hearing a lot about the Bureau and the House Financial Services Committee in the near future.