Trump should fill CFPB vacancy with Export-Import chief

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

Following Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayPut 'regulation by enforcement' where it belongs: The trash Exclusive: Consumer bureau name change could cost firms 0 million Kasich to return to New Hampshire for post-midterms visit 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 ask if Trump aide Bill Shine is breaking ethics laws The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump searches for next chief of staff | Congress, Trump dig in for funding fight | Why O'Rourke worries some Dems Warren has contacted 100 people in early 2020 primary states: report 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 MulvaneyThe Memo: Ayers decision casts harsh light on Trump Meadows looks to make his move Yankees president downplays interest in White House chief of staff job 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 ScottJuan Williams: Nowhere to go for black Republicans Tim Scott: Stop giving court picks with 'questionable track records on race' a Senate vote Ocasio-Cortez, Tim Scott, Becerra among Bloomberg's 50 most noteworthy in 2018 MORE (R-S.C.), Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsGOP senators introduce bill to give Trump billion for border wall Farmers sticking with Trump, says GOP senator South Dakota New Members 2019 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 HensarlingRare bipartisanship in lame duck Congress battling the ‘WTO’ of insurance regulation On The Money: Markets roiled by trade tensions | Rally on hopes of Fed pause on rate hikes | Senate sends two-week spending measure to Trump | Consumer bureau pick confirmed | Trade deficit at highest level since 2008 McHenry to lead GOP on banking panel, duel with Maxine Waters 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 SessionsPress: Mueller closes in on Trump Mueller's findings don't matter The Hill's Morning Report — Trump shakes up staff with eye on 2020, Mueller probe 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