Trump should fill CFPB vacancy with Export-Import chief

Trump should fill CFPB vacancy with Export-Import chief
© Greg Nash

Following Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayBipartisan House bill would replace consumer director with panel Mulvaney unsure of when he will leave consumer bureau Giving the middle class credit: New bill a step in right direction MORE’s resignation at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a surreal fight over leadership occurred for about 24 hours between the Trump administration and liberal activists led by Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDems offering bill aimed at curbing stock buybacks Lessons from Dan Lipinski’s victory Michael Moore: Russia, Stormy Daniels stories are 'shiny keys to distract us' MORE (D-Mass.). Ultimately the courts sided with the Trump administration, at least through the first round of legal challenges. 

Their ruling allows Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneySpending bill prevents employers from pocketing tips under tip-pooling rule Report: Trump officials overrule regulatory czar in releasing tip pooling rule Bipartisan House bill would replace consumer director with panel MORE to serve as interim CFPB director while simultaneously running the Office of Management and Budget. It's now up to the Trump administration to appoint a long-term successor to lead the agency.

Here’s an idea that solves two problems for the administration at once.

President Trump can move his existing choice to run the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank, former Congressman Scott GarrettErnest (Scott) Scott GarrettFive things lawmakers want attached to the trillion funding bill Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Manufacturers press Senate to approve Ex-Im board members MORE (R-N.J.), instead nominating him to take over for Cordray at CFPB. This idea is gaining steam in conservative circles, as influential radio host Hugh Hewitt suggested the idea recently.


The political reality is that Garrett has a very rocky road ahead in the Senate to lead the Ex-Im Bank, with Democrats unanimously opposed and various Republicans unnerved by his opposition to the bank's very existence, including Sens. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottSenators demand cyber deterrence strategy from Trump CNN's Bakari Sellers: Democratic leadership is 'old and stale' Politicians, faith leaders react to passing of Billy Graham MORE (R-S.C.), Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsGOP senators skeptical of DACA deal in funding bill Overnight Cybersecurity: Fallout from Tillerson's ouster at State | Trump blocks Broadcom deal | Military officials push for aggressive cyber stance Top officials: U.S. must shift to more aggressive cyber approach MORE (R-S.D.), and maybe even more. 

By moving Garrett to CFPB, Trump could achieve for conservatives what many on the right hoped Garrett's Ex-Im nomination would do.

The president needs to act fast, as OMB is a much more consequential agency, and one that can’t have its leader away for long given current budget fights on Capitol Hill.

That’s another reason Garrett makes so much sense — he’s already been going through vetting for a job in the Administration and wouldn’t have to start at square one like everyone else.

And while he may not be the perfect fit at Ex-Im, he may be exactly what is needed at the CFPB. 

The CFPB is as hated an institution as Ex-Im among conservative activists and may very well be unconstitutional, and Garrett could promise to drastically curb its regulatory power and dismantle it from the inside.

Trump has made clear his disdain for the CFPB, calling it “a total disaster.” In fact, you’d find few Republicans who will stand up and defend it. If you’re looking for a strong conservative to dismantle it, Garrett’s the man for the job.

While there have been other good names floated to lead the CFPB, like Rep. Jeb HensarlingThomas (Jeb) Jeb HensarlingOvernight Finance: Lawmakers race to finalize omnibus | What we know about funding bill | White House on board | Fed raises rates for first time under Powell Power struggle threatens to sink bank legislation Despite Senate vote, Dodd-Frank reform is far from a done deal MORE (R-Texas), it again comes down to the politics of it. The president has already appointed sitting members to his cabinet from districts and states we never though would be competitive.

But the party spent millions of dollars in Georgia and Montana, and now may be facing a loss in the Alabama Senate race to replace Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsHouse Dem moves to force vote on bill protecting Mueller Toobin goes off on Dershowitz for ‘carrying water’ for Trump Overnight Regulation: Groups sue over decision to end pay-data rule | EU proposes tax on tech companies | Sessions issues memo on death penalty for drug cases | Pruitt spent 5K on first class flights MORE’ seat. Republicans can’t afford to fight for these easy districts if they want to retain the House in 2018.

The advantage for the administration is that Garrett’s nomination to lead CFPB would be much less controversial and much more likely to pass, as the business community (the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Business Roundtable, etc.) almost certainly wouldn't fight his nomination nearly as fiercely as they are fighting his appointment to Ex-Im. Not to mention the CFPB gets the reformer it needs.

It’s win-win.

Matt Mackowiak is the president of Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C.-based Potomac Strategy Group, a Republican consultant, a Bush administration and Bush-Cheney re-election campaign veteran and former press secretary to two U.S. senators. His national politics podcast, “Mack on Politics,” may be found on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and on the web at