Mulvaney: CFPB’s Days of ‘Pushing the Envelope’ Are Over

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s prevailing governing philosophy of “pushing the envelope” in the name of enforcing consumer protection laws will shift under the bureau’s new leadership, Acting Director Mick Mulvaney said today in a memo to CFPB staff.

“It is not appropriate for any government entity to ‘push the envelope’ when it comes into conflict with our citizens,” Mulvaney said, referencing a statement made by a former CFPB official in a press interview. He added that the CFPB’s aggressive approach to court actions can have wide-reaching negative consequences for individuals’ jobs, finances and homes. “If a company closes its doors under the weight of a multiyear Civil Investigative Demand, you and I will still have jobs at the CFPB,” he wrote to bureau staff. “But what about the workers who are laid off as a result? Where do they go the next morning?”

Looking ahead, Mulvaney said that the bureau will pursue enforcement actions only in cases where there is “quantifiable and unavoidable harm to the consumer.” It will also engage in more formal rulemaking, prioritize its actions based on the consumer complaints it receives and use quantitative analysis to consider the costs and benefits of its rules on consumers and institutions, instead of relying on qualitative data — an approach that dovetails with what the American Bankers Association has long advocated.