Thursday, Oct 18, 2018
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Editorials

Mick Mulvaney should do his job or resign

  • CONSUMER-AGENCY-MULVANEY-3

    There are increased calls for Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director and acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to resign.

    NEW YORK TIMES/TOM BRENNER

  • Consumer-Watchdog-Name-Change-1

    Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney testifies before a House Appropriations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 18.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

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U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) has called for Mick Mulvaney to resign as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Calling for an administration official to resign should never be a reflexively partisan gesture. It is justified only if there is corruption or gross incompetence. A president has the right to appoint people who share his worldview.

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But Mr. Mulvaney is grossly incompetent. The twist is that he is intentionally so. He does not believe in the mission of the bureau, so, again and again, he tanks the mission.

His latest move was to direct that the division that protects student loan borrowers should be consolidated with another office with a less aggressive function. Consumer advocates fear the student loan function will be diminished and that is likely to happen.

Some of the agency’s biggest successes have been against lending practices by proprietary colleges. Moreover, the office has returned more than $750 million to student borrowers.

How would it be a good thing for the American people if that operation of the bureau were neutered?

Mr. Mulvaney ought to be empowering the student loan office rather than looking for ways to neutralize it.

There are legitimate criticisms that the CFBP director holds too much power. So let’s fix that, not kill the bureau with a thousand cuts.

It is also generally true that the Obama administration hugely over-regulated and assumed that regulation could almost never be excessive.

It does not follow that regulation is never necessary.

We regulate airplanes, autos, and pharmaceuticals to protect the public. History shows that this is necessary.

It is equally necessary to watchdog various types of predatory lending, even if the watchdog agency that does this, the CFPB, needs reform.

But, until such time as Congress amends the law, the agency deserves to have a director who respects its mission. It is simply not honest to sabotage institutions one disapproves of from the inside.

If the President wants to dismantle the CFPB, he should seek a change in the law. If he wants to refine or amend its duties, this too would require legislative action. Simply sabotaging the agency shows contempt for government and for law and feeds public cynicism.

Mr. Mulvaney is only the acting director of the CFPB. His full-time job is director of the Office of Management and Budget. Given his apparent disregard for the work of the CFPB, yes, it is time for Mr. Mulvaney to step down. Let someone run the bureau to the best of his or her abilities — that is oath the CFPB director takes.

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