The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is under fire from Republicans who say it has too much power, but Director Richard Cordray insisted Wednesday the agency holds companies accountable for mistreating or abusing consumers and has an important job to do.
"I think some of the rhetoric is quite overheated," Cordray told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program, in response to an opinion piece written by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, for USA Today.
"We have a job to do and in my view it's a law enforcement job . . . regular people don't have the chance when they are exploited out, and it might be $10, $20 or $50, and they can't go court over that, and that's the work we are doing," Cordray said.
In his opinion piece, though, Sasse argues that the CFPB has "more power than just about anyone in Washington," and as Cordray does not report to any elected officials, that means the agency is a "threat to government of, by, and for the people."
He also called on President Donald Trump, as the only person who can fire Cordray, to dismiss him.
"Everyone agrees that protecting consumers is good, but no one should be shocked to learn that there's often a huge gap between what bureaucracies say they will do and what bureaucracies actually do," said Sasse, complaining the bureau "consolidates vast power in the hands of Washington elites."
While the Constitution divides power among federal, state, and local governments and between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, the CFPB attacks that by "snowballing power" into a "big, unaccountable bureaucracy."
As a result, said Sasse, the bureau can write rules, penalize violators, and receives funding from the Federal Reserve outside of Congressional budget controls.
Our founders would ask 'how is it possible that Cordray doesn't report to anyone elected by the people?'" said Sasse. "The CFPB works overtime to crank out regulations. These rules can hurt folks on Main Street, families and local businesses that depend on community lenders and can't afford well-connected lobbyists or armies of lawyers."
In October, the CFPB, which was built in large part by Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren and put together during the Obama administration, lost an important ruling after a Washington D.C. circuit court ruled its structure as unconstitutional, The Atlantic reports.
The court said there are issues because there are no arms of the government empowered to review or rebuke the bureau's action or to curb the power Cordray holds.
"We do have a case that is pending, and I don't want to speculate about it because it's in the court's hands and the courts will make their judgment and we will abide by it," Cordray told MSNBC Wednesday.
"In the meantime there's a job to do, and we are supposed to make sure the law is being enforced. We have gotten money back for over 29 million consumers across the country, and we will try to do the work to the best of our ability."
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