American financial transactions are not free from Washington’s watchful eye during the government shutdown. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a creation of Dodd-Frank, is still open for business.
That’s because the Bureau gets its funding from the Federal Reserve, which does not receive money through the congressional appropriations process.
“The CFPB doesn’t like to advertise it’s a part of the Fed,” John Berlau, a researcher at the free market Competitive Enterprise Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation, “but it is, and it has some of the same Fed issues with lack of transparency and accountability.”
Berlau pointed out that while intelligence agents and law enforcement personnel are furloughed, CFPB analysts continue to collect mountains of financial data on millions of everyday Americans without their consent.
At a House hearing last July, the bureau’s deputy director told lawmakers his agency was monitoring the transactions of 900 million separate credit card accounts — around 80 percent of the U.S. credit card market. But many other questions about the data program remain unanswered.
“It’s too bad that the shutdown isn’t preventing the CFPB from continuing the assault on privacy, transparency and entrepreneurship,” Berlau said. “These outrages have to be furloughed.”
Concerned about the CFPB’s spying and lack of accountability to Congress or the courts, some Republican lawmakers are trying to do just that. House Republicans have indicated that they want CFPB rules changed to give Congress greater control over the bureau’s budget before they vote for a debt ceiling increase.
That demand goes along with the Republican push to delay Obamacare for one year as part of a debt ceiling compromise, a clear sign of how important many believe it is to bring the CFPB under a system of checks and balances.
“As horrible as Obamacare is, bringing accountability to the CFPB is equally important,” Berlau concluded.
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