Trump should fill CFPB vacancy with Export-Import chief

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

Following Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayDennis Kucinich jumps into race to be Cleveland mayor Biden administration reverses Trump-era policy that hampered probes of student loan companies On The Money: IRS to start monthly payments of child tax credit July 15 | One-fourth of Americans took financial hits in 2020: Fed 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 WarrenBipartisan senators to hold hearing on 'toxic conservatorships' amid Britney Spears controversy Senate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam White House faces increased cries from allies on Haitian migrants MORE (D-Mass.). Ultimately the courts sided with the Trump administration, at least through the first round of legal challenges. 

Their ruling allows Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' 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 GarrettOn The Trail: The political losers of 2020 Biz groups take victory lap on Ex-Im Bank Export-Import Bank back to full strength after Senate confirmations 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 ScottDOJ announces agencywide limits on chokeholds and no-knock entries Lobbying world As Biden falters, a two-man race for the 2024 GOP nomination begins to take shape MORE (R-S.C.), Mike RoundsMike RoundsSenate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam The 19 GOP senators who voted for the T infrastructure bill Senate passes T bipartisan infrastructure bill in major victory for Biden 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 HensarlingLawmakers battle over future of Ex-Im Bank House passes Ex-Im Bank reboot bill opposed by White House, McConnell Has Congress lost the ability or the will to pass a unanimous bipartisan small business bill? 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 SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program 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