The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been extremely on one since Mick Mulvaney, a Grimms’ Fairy Tales creature made real, took control of the agency and ground all its actions to a halt. Among other things, it has slowed its investigation of credit reporting agency Equifax; dropped a lawsuit against a predatory lender; and requested no government money to fund its activities.
An internal memo obtained today by NPR confirms what Mulvaney laid out in an email sent to staffers last month: that the agency will “fulfill its statutory responsibilities but go no further,” by which he means “will not fulfill its statutory responsibilities and will stop being so darn mean to the banks.”
On that note: the CFPB posted a Request for Information (RFI) on its enforcement processes today. While that sounds boring and routine, it isn’t. It’s part of Mulvaney’s review of all of the CFPB’s activities, and entails a series of public comment periods that will allow the public—but more importantly, banks, trade groups, and other people with a direct financial interest in turning the CFPB into a museum—to formally comment on what the agency does.
Those comments can provide a legal basis for the CFPB to change its rules, and they have proved crucial in the past. (You may remember the controversy over automated bulk comments from the FCC’s net neutrality proceedings, where real people’s identities—including those of some dead people—were used to file fake comments with the FCC in support of the repeal of net neutrality rules.)
This particular RFI is significant because it covers, among other things, the “calculation of civil money penalties.” These are the fines that the CFPB has in the past levied against financial institutions for defrauding, misleading, or otherwise fucking over their customers.
So wouldn’t it be nice if those public comments also contained comments from the actual public? If you’d like to tell the CFPB that, for example, fining banks who defraud their customers is good, or that the fines they’ve levied in the past have actually been absurdly low given the profits these companies make, you can do so here.