It’s rare that you ever point to a $30 million fine and call it good news. But that is just the case with recent news that TCF National Bank and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reached a large settlement regarding the bank’s unfair and misleading practices on its customers.
After an investigation, the CFPB found that TCF mishandled overdraft fees and misled its banking customers and had been pretty brazen about it to boot. (A former TCF bank CEO actually named his yacht “Overdraft,” according to The Wall Street Journal, because he was able to afford it based on the exorbitant fees collected!).
The good news? Of the $30 million settlement, $25 million will go directly back to customers to compensate them for questionable charges. That most of the money is going directly back to customers is welcome news, as is the fact that there was finally a resolution to this case.
It is also one more example of the wonderful leadership at the CFPB provided by Interim Director Mick Mulvaney.
The CFPB filed suit against TCF in January 2017, the same month President Trump took office. Cleaning up the consumer watchdog so that it would be better for both businesses and consumers was high on the new administration’s list of priorities, and they got straight to work.
Under previous leadership, the CFPB had been stymied in this mission by spurious claims made by the then-director that he wasn’t beholden to the president. In fact, the previous director believed he was the one who could appoint his own successor. Can you sense the entitlement?
Following a long and unnecessary legal battle, it wasn’t until November of last year that Trump was able to install his own leadership team, temporarily installing Office of Management and Budget (OMB) head Mick Mulvaney at the helm.
Mulvaney has made quick work at turning around the CFPB by focusing his energy on taming an agency that was supposed to stick up for consumers. It had instead taken on a reputation for annoying businesses and tying them up for years with costly and burdensome investigations with no end in sight.
During their time in limbo, businesses acting in good faith were required to spend millions of dollars collecting information for the agency, while sacrificing scarce resources that were meant for growth and planning.
Mulvaney and the new CFPB have been quick to remove the uncertainty caused by the previous administration, not by siding with businesses in all cases, but by quickly evaluating customer concerns and making reasonably quick decisions about what to do: fine, sue, or clear the business and remove that cloud of uncertainty. In short: focus on the real problem-causers, and help the good-faith actors.
Progressive Democratic obstructionists in the Senate, such as Elizabeth Warren, hate this new firm, measured approach — it wasn’t at all what they had in mind when the CFPB was created.
They want to do everything they can to restore a meddlesome CFPB, and to that end, they have protested Mulvaney’s conservative reforms, including the elimination of a taxpayer-salaried do-nothing advisory board, and have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at Kathy Kraninger, Trump’s nominee to lead the agency full-time, allowing Mulvaney to go back to wearing only one hat at the OMB.
Kraninger’s nomination will wind through the Senate in what will likely be a grudging confirmation process. In the meantime, Mulvaney’s strong leadership team continues to competently clean up the protracted messes left by the Obama-era CFPB. The well-deserved $30 Million TCF settlement was the third one announced in July, for instance.
Previously, in April, the agency announced a whopping $1 billion settlement with Wells Fargo to address longstanding issues with the bank’s management and unfair, predatory practices on customers. That is what we mean we say “winning!”
Mulvaney gets a lot of undeserved hate from the usual suspects, so let me just commend him for making consumer finance protections great again, and thereby freeing up businesses to do what they do best.
The CFPB has NEVER looked so good. And American taxpayers have Mick Mulvaney to thank for that.
Steven Hilding is a GOP activist and an alumnus of the Trump for President Campaign.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.