The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is still in its infancy but critics already say it's not playing nicely with others.
An oversight hearing by the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Credit and Financial Institutions gave Republicans another forum Wednesday for criticizing the bureau for overreaching and being insufficiently accountable.
The independent agency, which still lacks a permanent director pending action on the nomination of Richard Cordray, has been in operation for 100 days.
Subcommittee Chairman Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said she fears that bureau will limit the flexibility of credit unions and community banks to make decisions that benefit their members and customers by imposing a “one size fits all’’ solution, including requiring the use of “plain vanilla products.’’
But Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who was the chief sponsor of the law that created the CFPB, said lawmakers specifically rejected a proposal by the Obama administration to require those “plain vanilla products.”
Further, he said that the hearing was being held two days too late
He said it should have been held on Halloween because Republicans speak of “spooks, ghosts, goblins and other non-existent creatures.’’
Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) said the existing structure of the bureau with a sole director “results in there being no checks and balances and it could easily become a loose cannon.’’ The House has passed a bill changing the structure but it has made it no further.
Raj Date, who is running the CFPB until a director is confirmed by the Senate, told the panel that the agency’s emphasis so far has been streamlining the disclosure process on mortgages and student loans.
“We want to make sure consumers know what they are getting into,’’ he said.
Several committee members said that credit unions and community banks didn’t cause the financial crisis but still had to hire more employees to deal with compliance issues.
Date didn’t address that concern directly but said stronger rules will benefit everyone and level the playing field among providers of financial services.