Fascist Showdown Over the Consumer Protection Agency

November 28, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


FLASH: In the last week the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau resigned. In the wake of this, there has been contention between Donald Trump and the current acting head of the CFPB about who will lead this agency. And the different parties went to federal court for a ruling. As we post this, Judge Kelly has ruled in favor of Trump’s appointment to the CFPB.  The following article describes what this contention is all about and the stakes involved.


This showdown in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a pretty big deal.  Last week, Richard Cordray, the director of the CFPB, left the agency.  According to the rules of the agency, when a director resigns, the chief of staff becomes the acting director until the end of the term.  However, in violation of these rules, Donald Trump appointed Mick Mulvaney to take over.  Both Mulvaney, and the rightful acting director, Leandra English, showed up to work as head of the agency on Monday and now a legal showdown is ensuing over who will go forward as the recognized director.

On one level, this is a move by Trump to demolish any restraints on banks and predatory lending which will be very bad for the people.  Mulvaney has openly and repeatedly expressed his desire to see the entire agency dismantled.  In his first day as Trump’s man in charge, he already announced a hiring freeze for the entire agency and a ban on any new regulations.

Right now, two different people claim to be the rightful head of the agency, issuing instructions for the agency that are directly at odds.  This inherently undermines the agency no matter what comes of this round, and forces people in the agency to reveal where they line up in the split—further undermining the ability of such an agency to function in the future and making clear to the Regime who they most would want to go after.

But, on an even more overarching level, this is a frontal attack on the rule of law and separation of powers with extremely far-reaching and dangerous implications.  Trump has no legal right to appoint an acting director—this is explicit in the rules of the agency as specified in the Dodd-Frank Act, the act of Congress which created the CFPB.  So, right there is an assault on the rule of law and separation of powers, the assertion of the President that he will do what he wants even if it is against the law.  But that is not all.  Mulvaney is part of Trump’s cabinet—so it is a violation of separation of powers for him to simultaneously head up a watchdog agency, which is supposed to have independence.

Then, you have the ominous situation where the emergency lawsuit challenging this lunacy filed by Leandra English (the rightful head of CFPB) is being heard by Timothy J. Kelly—a new federal judge appointed in a rushed proceeding by Trump and who is a member of the Federalist Society, a group that sees almost no legitimate restraint on the power of the President.  It is revealing that, according to the Washington Post, Kelly asked Leandra English’s lawyer “why the court should undertake the ‘extraordinary remedy’ of enjoining the president from exercising the power of his office”—despite the fact that it is written into the law that it is not in the power of the president’s office to appoint an interim director.  This does not bode well—not for this particular case, and not for the future.

This is not normal.  This is part of the destruction of any previously existing checks on executive authority.  It is part of the consolidation of a fascist America.




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