Weakened U.S. consumer watchdog expected to bite back if Biden wins election

Source: 
Reuters
Katanga Johnson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A decade-long Republican campaign to weaken the consumer watchdog’s independence is set to backfire if Democrat Joe Biden wins the presidential election, by handing him the power to swiftly replace the agency’s director with a consumer champion, said nearly a dozen lawyers, lobbyists and policy experts.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been a political lightning rod since it was created following the 2009 financial crisis, beloved by Democrats as a guardian of ordinary Americans but reviled by Republicans as too powerful and unaccountable.

The Trump administration has clipped the agency’s wings, relaxing enforcement and some rules, and asking the Supreme Court to decide whether the president should have discretionary power to fire its director, as Republicans have long argued.

In June, the court ruled that he could.

That landmark decision, however, would also give a Biden presidency the power to fire current CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger, a Trump appointee Democrats accuse of bowing to industry lobbyists.

 

Kraninger, whose term ends in 2023, declined to be interviewed but has said the agency should focus on policing bad actors rather than penalizing companies for minor, procedural violations.

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