Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), recently pledged to reduce the regulatory oversight of the agency. Mulvaney plans to create an “office of cost benefit analysis” to weigh the economic cost of CFPB enforcement actions, not to mention agency operational costs.
The heightened scrutiny is long overdue. After years of bureaucratic excess under former CFPB director Richard Cordray, the agency has become the poster child of the Washington swamp. In 2011, the CFPB employed 58 workers. In 2017, the agency had nearly 1,700 employees on payroll—a roughly 2,750 percent increase in a matter of several years.
And the CFPB’s workforce—funded by the American taxpayer—does not come cheap. The agency currently boasts more than $333 million in annual personnel compensation and benefit costs, in addition to roughly $20 million in travel costs. This equates to over $205,000 per employee!
As operational costs have ballooned, so has the toll of CFPB enforcement actions. Since its inception, the agency has ordered more than $5 billion in penalties, affecting banks, mortgage companies, payday lenders, and other employers.
Mr. Mulvaney has his work cut out for him.