*Those Excessive CFPB Salaries*
**By Phil Hall**
***In describing the modus operandi of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Richard Cordray, the agency’s director, has often used the cliché “cop on the beat” to describe the agency’s approach to monitoring the financial services industry. Of course, this comparison is something of a stretch – unlike Cordray, police officers don’t get their job by way of an unconstitutional presidential recess appointment, nor do they keep their jobs thanks to a Harry Reid temper tantrum.
****But beyond the politics of the CFPB, there is a more disturbing aspect to how the agency operates, and it involves the issue of compensation. The Washington Examiner (http://washingtonexaminer.com/fat-paychecks-for-cfpb-officials-hundreds-paid-more-than-fed-chairman-congressmen-supreme-court-justices/article/2533189) recently ran an analysis of the salary data of the CFPB’s staff, and the results are more than a little surprising. According to the Washington Examiner, 56 CFPB employees have annual salaries that are higher than the $199,700 earned by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, while 19 CFPB employees earn salaries higher than the $223,500 received by Chief Justice John Roberts. Furthermore, 14 CFPB staffers have salaries that exceed the $227,000 earned by Vice President Joe Biden.
****Yes, I know it is not unusual for government bureaucrats to milk the cash cow – some of the executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are still earning salaries that are greater than President Obama’s. But, in fairness, no one at Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac has barreled through Washington with the level of self-righteous indignation as Cordray. Lest we forget, Cordray famously sneered that he was on a mission to “put the service back in servicing” – though he conveniently forgot to mention that he wasn’t above servicing his own bank account with an inflated salary.
****The Washington Examiner analysis also found that the average annual CFPB salary is $118,000 and the median is $113,000. Sixty-one percent of the CFPB staff enjoys six-figure salaries, while 25% reap annual salaries of $150,000. In comparison, the average American – the poor guy that the CFPB is supposed to be protecting – has an individual median income of $29,965.
****One of the main complaints raised by the CFPB’s critics has been its lack of accountability to Congress. During the March 12 hearing for the second Cordray confirmation hearing, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., argued that the CFPB’s ability to operate outside of congressional oversight has created questionable financial transactions.
****“We are elected to provide oversight,” Toomey said to Cordray. “In fiscal year 2012, the CFPB spent about $150 million on contracts and support services, which is more than what was spent on employees. That’s nearly half of the money that you received from the Federal Reserve that year. There’s no public accounting on how those monies were used for contract services and support services. I think we have a right as U.S. senators to probe into this information. It is important to tell our constituents, ‘Don’t worry, this money has been spent wisely.'”
****Well, the CFPB money is clearly not being spent wisely on salaries for minor bureaucrats that exceed the earnings of the leadership of the Fed or the Supreme Court. And it is no surprise that Cordray has been conspicuously prickly over attempts to realign his fiefdom into the constitutional concept of checks-and-balances and evasive about giving straightforward answers on how the CFPB funds are allocated. If the CFPB had to answer to congressional oversight, it is highly unlikely that Cordray and his merry band of auditors would be pocketing taxpayer funds with such generous vigor – all in the name of helping the consumer (cough cough).
****To date, Cordray has not publicly commented on the Washington Examiner data, nor has he explained what anyone at the CFPB is doing to deserve such ridiculously bloated take-home pay. But if we can’t get a real answer, it would be nice if Cordray started using a new cliché to describe his work. Quite frankly, cops on the beat do not draw salaries greater than the chairman of the Federal Reserve or the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Phil Hall has been (among other things) a United Nations-based radio journalist, the president of a public relations and marketing agency, a financial magazine editor, the author of six books and a horror movie actor. Also, as you will discover, he is not shy about stating his views.