Lavish salaries defended by new government agency

Charles Rollet Contributor
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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has hundreds of employees with higher salaries than those occupying top ranks of the government, including Supreme Court justices, state governors, and members of Congress, the Washington Examiner reports.

More than 60 percent of the CFPB’s 1,204 employees make six figures. Fifty six CFPB employees make more than $199,700, the salary of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and 37 make more than Supreme Court justices, who earn $213,500.

The CFPB responded to the revelations by noting the Dodd-Frank bill, which created the agency itself in 2011, requires that compensation be comparable to Federal Reserve employees.

“CFPB’s pay design and pay setting methodology places our employees in line with the Federal Reserve Board’s average salary for employees with similar skills and experience,” spokeswoman Michelle Person told The Daily Caller.

The consumer watchdog agency is the “baby” of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat whose aggressive push for heavier bank regulations made her a progressive rock star in the wake of the financial crisis.

The CFPB’s new director Richard Cordray was sworn in after two years of Republican filibustering on Tuesday. Warren applauded his appointment.

“Now we have the watchdog that the American people deserve – a watchdog looking out for middle class families, getting rid of tricks, traps, and fine print, and holding financial institutions accountable when they break the law,” she said in a press release.

Consumer protection expert Alan Kaplinsky told TheDC the high compensation of CFPB employees is nothing unusual.

“I have no quarrel whatsoever with the CFPB’s salary structure,” said Kaplinsky, chair of the Consumer Financial Services Group. “They need to pay the salaries they do in order to attract top-notch talent.”

Some congressional Republicans, however, are not buying it.

Senator Chuck Grassley, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, told the Examiner that CFPB’s salaries “raise concern about the way this department was created.”

Warren did not reply to a request for comment.