CFPB 'fundamentally unaccountable': Hensarling

by Ryan Smith29 Jan 2014
The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee blasted the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as “fundamentally unaccountable” Tuesday during a committee hearing on the agency.

“The CFPB is perhaps the single most powerful and least accountable federal agency in all of Washington and demands rigorous oversight,” said Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R- Texas). “…When it comes to the credit cards, auto loans and mortgages of hardworking taxpayers, the CFPB has unbridled discretionary power not only to make them less available and more expensive, but to absolutely take them away.”

Hensarling maintained that the CFPB could operate almost at the whim of its director because of a fundamental lack of oversight.

“This is not the rule of law, it is the rule of rulers – and the rulers are unaccountable,” he said. “The Bureau is fundamentally unaccountable to the president since the director can only be removed for cause. Fundamentally unaccountable to Congress because the bureau’s funding is not subject to appropriations. Fundamentally unaccountable to the courts because Dodd-Frank requires courts to grant the CFPB deference regarding its interpretation of Federal consumer financial law. Thus, the Bureau regrettably remains unaccountable to the American people.”

Hensarling said his committee had received numerous complaints about the agency’s new mortgage regulations.

“We are already hearing numerous feedback concerning the harmful impact on consumers of the Bureau’s Qualified Mortgage rule, which went into effect just days ago,” he said.

Hensarling quoted a Texas banker who said that his small bank had suspended all mortgage products in the wake of QM, as well as a banker in an unnamed western state who claimed that the QM rule unfairly affected his Hispanic customers, many of whom were “more stable than so-called ‘qualifying secondary market individuals,’ who are simply over-leveraged.”

“The CFPB has a very important mission. Properly designed and led, it is capable of great good,” Hensarling said. “But stories like these dramatically show the very real harm that the CFPB can inflict on low- and moderate-income Americans.”

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