I have a Bichon Frise named Joshua – he is a rescue dog that came into my life last year. He has plenty of things in his favor: he is very cute, incredibly photogenic, and a great chick magnet when I go walking in the park. But he has one thing that can be considered as a disadvantage: he doesn’t really listen when he gets a certain thought in his mind.
For instance, Joshua has been told on more than one occasion that the laundry hamper is not a playground, but that doesn’t stop him from rolling in the dirty underwear and t-shirts. Nor is Joshua interested in being told that the toilet brush is not a chew toy. Indeed, on more than one occasion Joshua has been running through the house holding the toilet brush in his jaws as if he was cigar-chomping Groucho Marx romping about. And as for our warning about barking at the elderly man across the street, all I can say is that I am glad our senior neighbor either has an immense sense of humor or a poor sense of hearing – his mere presence in his front door gets Joshua growling and howling.
I don’t know if Joshua has any canine relatives, but he has a two-legged brother running the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). And while Richard Cordray is nowhere near as cute as my Bichon Frise, he certainly shares Joshua’s stubborn habit of ignoring what is said to him.
Whether it comes to his refusal to admit the error of the CFPB’s so-called consumer complaint database – a digital mess that even the Federal Reserve’s Office of the Inspector General has criticized for numerous inaccuracies – or his failure to listen to the industry about putting a good-faith period into place following the implementation of the TRID changes or his fingers-in-the-ears/turning-of-his-back to documented problems on cost overruns surrounding the new CFPB headquarters and problems with discrimination in CFPB personnel procedures, Cordray is the rare Washington power figure that holds people in complete and utter contempt. He will not admit that his bureau is capable of making any error, nor will he concede that it is accountable to the American public.
For example consider this exchange from a June 2014 Congressional hearing when Rep. Jeb Hensarling quizzed Cordray about the rising costs of the CFPB headquarters construction. “Let me just ask you about specific costs, they come from public documents that have been filed, and with taxpayer money—you do agree it’s taxpayer money that you are spending?” Hensarling said.
“I would say that I have children, too, and I care about the debt as you do, for the same reasons,”
Cordray said – a response to an earlier and unrelated remark made by Hensarling on how his
“I just asked, do you agree it’s taxpayer money?” Hensarling said.
“It is federal government money that comes from the Federal Reserve,” Cordray responded.
“Okay, so it’s difficult for you to say it’s taxpayer money?” Hensarling asked.
“I don’t know whether taxpayer is the right term or not,” Cordray replied. “It’s the money of Americans.”
Uh huh. Well, I can say that my stubborn little Bichon Frise has one trait that Cordray lacks, and that is humility. Consider the self-congratulatory tone that Cordray during a recent speech before the National Association of Realtors, when he claimed that the CFPB’s rules to “encourage common-sense, consumer-friendly business practices” were key to the current level of positive housing market achievements.
“In 2014, the first year of our new rules, mortgage originations for owner-occupied home purchases increased between four and five percent,” Cordray said. “The upward trend appears to have accelerated over the first half of this year. And while we saw minor consolidation in some parts of the mortgage market, there is no evidence of any mass exodus, as the doomsayers predicted. In fact, after adjusting for merger activity, the number of lenders that reported having originated mortgages showed an increase in 2014. And in particular, the number of community banks and credit unions that originated home-purchase mortgages last year was higher than the year before.”
Oh, we have a healthy and happy housing market thanks solely to the CFPB, right? Well, maybe there is one more bit of overlap my Bichon Frise and Cordray: my dog leaves his waste in the park and Cordray leaves them in his speeches.
About The Author
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.