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Mulvaney unveils sweeping plan to dramatically alter CFPB

Mulvaney: We commit to the CFPB’s statutory responsibilities, but will go no further

Over the past few months, Mick Mulvaney has provided smaller indications about how much differently the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will function under his leadership than it did under the bureau’s former director, Richard Cordray.

But Monday, Mulvaney fully revealed his plan to dramatically alter how the CFPB operates.

The CFPB on Monday released a new strategic plan, in which Mulvaney lays out how the CFPB will now operate and established new goals for the bureau.

“If there is one way to summarize the strategic changes occurring at the bureau, it is this: we have committed to fulfill the bureau’s statutory responsibilities, but go no further,” Mulvaney said in a statement. “By hewing to the statute, this strategic plan provides the bureau a ready roadmap, a touchstone with a fixed meaning that should serve as a bulwark against the misuse of our unparalleled powers.”

According to the CFPB, the plan “draws directly” from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and “refocuses the bureau’s mission on regulating consumer financial products or services under existing federal consumer financial laws, enforcing those laws judiciously, and educating and empowering consumers to make better informed financial decisions.”

Included among the changes is that the CFPB will now focus on “equally protecting the legal rights of all, including those regulated by the bureau,” a tactic Mulvaney previously revealed in a memo to the CFPB’s employees.

Also, it appears that the only new rulemaking the CFPB will engage in will be to “address unwarranted regulatory burdens and to implement federal consumer financial law and will operate more efficiently, effectively, and transparently.”

As Mulvaney previously stated, the CFPB will no longer be “pushing the envelope” when it comes to new rules, regulations, or enforcement.

“Indeed, this should be an ironclad promise for any federal agency; pushing the envelope in pursuit of other objectives ignores the will of the American people, as established in law by their representatives in Congress and the White House,” Mulvaney says in the strategic plan. “Pushing the envelope also risks trampling upon the liberties of our citizens, or interfering with the sovereignty or autonomy of the states or Indian tribes. I have resolved that this will not happen at the bureau.”

In pursuit of this goal, the CFPB establishes a new mission that is much different from what it was previously.

Under Cordray, the CFPB’s mission (as taken from the CFPB’s previous strategic plan) was the following: “The CFPB is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives.”

The CFPB’s new mission, as laid out by the new strategic plan is this: “To regulate the offering and provision of consumer financial products or services under the Federal consumer financial laws and to educate and empower consumers to make better informed financial decisions.”

According to the new plan, the CFPB will accomplish its new mission by: seeking the counsel of others and making decisions after carefully considering the evidence, equally protecting the legal rights of all, confidently doing what is right, and acting with humility and moderation.

The new strategic plan also lays out new goals for the CFPB.

Previously, the CFPB had four goals:

  • Prevent financial harm to consumers while promoting good practices that benefit them
  • Empower consumers to live better financial lives
  • Inform the public, policy makers, and the CFPB’s own policymaking with data-driven analysis of consumer finance markets and consumer behavior
  • Advance the CFPB’s performance by maximizing resource productivity and enhancing impact

Under Mulvaney, the CFPB’s new goals are:

  • Ensure that all consumers have access to markets for consumer financial products and services
  • Implement and enforce the law consistently to ensure that markets for consumer financial products and services are fair, transparent, and competitive
  • Foster operational excellence through efficient and effective processes, governance, and security of resources and information

Part of that first goal will be to “regularly identify and address outdated, unnecessary, or unduly burdensome regulations in order to reduce unwarranted regulatory burdens,” according to the plan.

Under the second goal, the CFPB lays out two objectives that are designed to help meet the goal, including protecting consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts and practices and from discrimination.

To meet that objective, the CFPB will “enhance compliance with federal laws intended to ensure the fair, equitable and nondiscriminatory access to credit for both individuals and companies and promote fair lending compliance and education,” and “strengthen prevention and response to elder financial exploitation.”

Additionally, under the “implement and enforce the law consistently to ensure that markets for consumer financial products and services are fair, transparent, and competitive” goal, the CFPB will “enforce federal consumer financial law consistently, without regard to the status of a person as a depository institution, in order to promote fair competition.”

Included in the strategies to achieve that objective is focusing supervision and enforcement resources on “institutions and their product lines that pose the greatest risk to consumers based on the nature of the product, field and market intelligence, and the size of the institution and product line.”

The third goal deals mainly with the CFPB’s internal operations, including safeguarding the CFPB’s data, maintaining a “talented, diverse, inclusive and engaged workforce,” and working to manage risk and promote accountability at the bureau.

To read the CFPB’s new strategic plan in full, click here.

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