A Senate vote for Kraninger is a vote against Main Street

A Senate vote for Kraninger is a vote against Main Street
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Senators who vote this week to confirm Kathleen Kraninger as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be endorsing the pro-industry, anti-consumer track record of current Director 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 over the last 12 months, and asking for more.

They ought to take the remaining time before the Senate goes on record to contemplate how she will run an agency that is supposed to protect the public from Wall Street and predatory lenders.


American consumers are on track to owe a whopping $4 trillion in total debt (excluding mortgages) by the end of this year. The CFPB is our front-line defense against debt traps and abusive lending. Senators who support her nomination are putting millions of people at risk of increased hardship and financial insecurity.

What are her qualifications? She has no prior experience in consumer protection or financial law. She was so tight-lipped at her confirmation hearing that Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzThe Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay Democrats scramble to unify before election bill brawl Schumer to force vote Tuesday on sweeping election bill MORE (D-Hawaii) flat-out said “I am trying to get an answer from you, and I just can’t, and it’s maddening.”

What she has said, however, at the time of her hearing, and since, is that she supports and agrees with what Mulvaney has done. 

Mulvaney was appointed as the CFPB’s temporary director last year, and from the start he’s done his level best to interfere with the mission Congress gave it. Mulvaney has spent a year repaying old debts to the payday lenders that bankrolled his career as a member of Congress.

He dropped cases against Golden Valley, a notorious payday lender, and World Acceptance, a peddler of longer-term loans, despite clear evidence of wrongdoing. Just this week, reports came out that he’s close to settling with yet another exploitative lender, Think Finance.

These changes fit into a broader pattern in which Mulvaney’s CFPB sought lower fines for wrongdoers and less restitution for harmed consumers. Under the previous director, CFPB won relief worth $12 billion to over 29 million Americans. What will Mulvaney point to as his accomplishment for American consumers?

In another giant favor to the payday industry, Mulvaney has announced plans to gut an important regulation — developed after five years of consideration and consultation — that would protect consumers from being trapped in a cycle of debt.

The rule built around the common sense requirement that lenders assess a borrower’s ability to repay the loan. It would save hard-pressed families billions of dollars in aggregate. But the payday lenders don’t like it, so it is a target.

In a particularly reprehensible move, Mulvaney has actively enabled discrimination in lending. He’s trying to defang the CFPB’s Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity, which is in charge of policing fair and equal access to credit for borrowers of color.

His appointee to oversee this work is Eric Blankenstein, a man who once said that most hate crimes are hoaxes and wasn’t sure if saying the N-word was racist. Mulvaney has also effectively shut down the most meaningful work of the office dedicated to protecting students from financial exploitation.

Not even men and women in uniform deserve any protection in Mulvaney’s eyes. He’s fighting furiously to block effective supervision under the Military Lending Act (MLA), a law that protects servicemembers from abusive lending practices.

Evidence points to financial troubles as a leading cause of military suicides, and the MLA is one of our strongest tools for preventing ripoffs. Mulvaney has also gone out of his way to expose servicemembers to fraud at the hands of sleazy auto dealers.

Kraninger has lined up behind Mulvaney’s terrible record, but she also has one of her own. We know that she played some role in directing the Trump administration’s terrible response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and in the morally repugnant child separation policy, in which children were split up from their parents.

The plan was profoundly wrong as an approach, and the execution compounded the misery, as the government had no plan for ever reuniting families. An internal government watchdog cited “a poorly coordinated interagency process,” a problem squarely in OMB’s wheelhouse. Kraninger has refused to answer questions about her exact role. 

Anyone at the helm of the CFPB should have record of protecting the public interest, along with a willingness to stand up to powerful bad actors in the world’s most powerful industry. Kraninger fails that test badly.

Rion Dennis is a legislative and advocacy strategist for Americans for Financial Reform, an organization that advocates for financial reform in the United States, including stricter regulation of Wall Street.