President Donald Trump campaigned as a populist, but one of the first acts of his Department of Justice is to challenge the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The brief asks an appeals court to order the agency to be reorganized.
The Justice Department said the CFPB’s structure creates separation-of-powers problems under the Constitution because the bureau director isn’t sufficiently answerable to the president.
“There is a greater risk that an independent agency headed by a single person will engage in extreme departures from the president’s executive policy,” the department said in the brief, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The president should be able to fire the director at will, the department said.
The CFPB declined to comment. It is due to file a new legal brief in the case by the end of March.
The President is rolling his attack against the CFPB into his larger onslaught against the Dodd-Frank Act which the president says was hurting businesses, but is a claim not backed up by the evidence. Gross total lending and leases have risen to levels higher than before the financial crash of 2008, according to FDIC numbers.
In his last public comments on the matter in January, CFPB director Richard Cordray said that the agency shouldn’t be restructured. “We have an independent mandate to do what we do and we’ll continue to work to protect consumers,” he said according to The Hill. He also said he has no intention of leaving his post in the new administration.
Much of the appeal that candidate Trump had to voters not entirely bothered by nativism, disrespect, and possible sexual assault is that he was a populist not beholden to the “big banks” and the “political establishment.” Yet, with this move, it shows that President Trump is governing just like one would expect a traditional big-business-friendly Republican in the tradition of Jeb Bush or Ted Cruz.
One has to wonder how the Trump coalition will respond to this news. One of the most recent polls on this subject found that 70 percent of people of all parties supported the CFPB, with more than half saying they support it “strongly,” according to law professor Angela Littwin writing for the Standard-Times. If that 30 percent against the CFPB overlap with the around 30 percent of people who will support Trump no matter what he does or says, the White House could be facing a big problem.
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