Mulvaney: Regulation by Enforcement is ‘Done’

WASHINGTON, D.C.–Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Acting Director Mick Mulvaney said despite perceptions that the Bureau has stopped enforcing laws and regulations, the Bureau “continues to function as we did before–we are just taking a different way of looking at it.”

MickMulvaney“If you’re breaking the law, we’re going to come after you,” Mulvaney said here at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Annual Convention & Expo. “If you’re doing something we don’t like, but it’s within the law, then we’re going to leave you alone.”

Mulvaney said the Bureau’s controversial regulation by enforcement policy is “done.”

“It’s not fair,” Mulvaney said. “I used to be involved in small businesses. I’m okay if the government is coming after me if I break the law. Regulation by enforcement and regulation by guidance is something I don’t get.”

Similarly, Mulvaney said the Bureau is considering how to treat the Unfair, Deceptive and Abusive Acts and Practices as defined under the Dodd-Frank Act. “We know what ‘unfair’ is,” he said. “We know what ‘deceptive is; I’m not sure we know how to define ‘abusive.’ This is an example of how we are looking at issues.”

Mulvaney said he hadn’t known what his goals would be when he came to the Bureau in 2017. “But I quickly got a good idea,” he said. “We are still Elizabeth Warren’s child, for better or worse. We’re not the FDIC; we’re not the SEC…I want the Bureau to get there, to where we are associated with other regulators and not controversial because of its partisan circumstances, which colors what half of Americans think of it.”

Mulvaney said he strongly supports the Bureau being under a five-person board, rather than a single director. “It smooths out a lot of processes,” he said. “But it’s hard to get stuff done in Washington right now and the Bureau is suffering because of this.”

“The Bureau is not going anywhere,” Mulvaney added. “There is no appetite on Capitol Hill for getting rid of the Bureau. We are here. And as long as we are here, we are going to play an important role in government…we’ve had people say, ‘here’s the pendulum, and Elizabeth Warren took it ‘here,’ and you’re taking it ‘here.’ That might be true, but my goal is to move the needle to the middle.”

Mulvaney praised MBA for its participation in a recent series of Requests for Information about the Bureau’s operations (MBA sent 12 letters in total). “Your comments are important,” he said. “When we ask for input we sincerely want to hear what you think so we can shape future policy. We want you to participate because it does make a difference.”