Trump should fill CFPB vacancy with Export-Import chief

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

Following Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayPoll: Majority of likely voters support consumer bureau mission Election Countdown: Takeaways from too-close-to-call Ohio special election | Trump endorsements cement power but come with risks | GOP leader's race now rated as 'toss-up' | Record numbers of women nominated | Latino candidates get prominent role in 2020 Michigan race shows two parties on different trajectories 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 WarrenOvernight Health Care: Azar defends approach on drug rebates | Trump presses Senate to act quickly on opioid crisis | Kentucky governor's Medicaid lawsuit tossed Trump lauds ICE at White House event Trump calls for public officials to praise ICE, Border Patrol agents 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 MulvaneyOvernight Defense: Pentagon says Trump canceled parade before cost briefing | Erik Prince renews push for contractors to run Afghan war | More officials join outcry over security clearances On The Money: Trump 'not thrilled' at Fed chief's interest rate hikes | Trump says no concessions on Turkey tariffs | Why time is running out for NAFTA talks Mulvaney asking Trump officials to help company under pressure due to tariffs 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 GarrettManufacturers support Reed to helm Ex-Im Bank Trump taps nominee to lead Export-Import Bank Who has the edge for 2018: Republicans or Democrats? 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 Scott2020 hopefuls skeptical of criminal justice deal with Trump No, Omarosa was not the White House’s ‘token minority’ GOP senator: If Trump colluded with Russia the world would already know MORE (R-S.C.), Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsTougher Russia sanctions face skepticism from Senate Republicans EPA’s Wheeler gets warmer welcome at Senate hearing Tenn. Republicans to go on offense against Dem 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 HensarlingThe data is mightier than the sword, Mr. President It’s possible to protect national security without jeopardizing the economy California wildfires prompt deficit debate in Congress 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 SessionsTrump indicates he's leaning against Mueller sit-down Trump rattled by White House counsel's cooperation with Mueller: report Falwell Jr. killed student newspaper articles critical of Trump: report 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