BLOG VIEW: In view of the stagnant state of partisan rancor in Washington, it is safe to assume that Richard Cordray will not receive formal Senate confirmation as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), thus ensuring his recess appointment tenure will expire at the end of this year. Of course, the question arises regarding Cordray's successor as CFPB chief. In my opinion, there is only one individual who can continue to maintain the intellectual and emotional force that Cordray has brought to the CFPB: Grumpy Cat.
For those who are unfamiliar with my candidate, Grumpy Cat is the latest Internet meme sensation: a scowling feline who views the world with an uncommon depth of dyspeptic disdain. Grumpy Cat is credited with a nonstop skein of misanthropic statements that express no great love for the two-legged crowd.
‘There are two types of people in this world,’ Grumpy Cat says in one popular Internet photograph. ‘And I don't like them.’
As I see it, this sourpuss pussycat is the natural choice to take the CFPB reins from Cordray. After all, the two appear to view people with a near-identical level of contempt. But while Grumpy Cat has always been a harsh critic of the human experience, Cordray's opinions have evolved recently with surprising fury.
For example, let's consider an astonishing bit of revisionist history that Cordray attempted to sneak into a recent speech before the annual conference of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. ‘Leading up to the financial crisis, the consumer financial marketplace was characterized by many irresponsible lending practices,’ he said. ‘Too many borrowers were set up to fail with mortgages they could not afford to pay back.’
Really? Are we supposed to believe that financial institutions went out of their way to intentionally create rickety loans that would ultimately cost them billions of dollars in lost revenue? And are we supposed to believe that the people signing these loans were so thoroughly stupid that they could easily be ‘set up’ to sign on the dotted line without realizing that they were taking on a financial burden far beyond their means?
In the same speech, Cordray angrily announced, ‘Lenders need to move beyond the uncertainty and fear that has led to a severe tightening of credit.’
Oh, of course, it is all the lenders' fault that credit has tightened. It has nothing to do with the threat of multimillion-dollar litigation from a rogue federal regulatory agency that operates outside of the constitutional structure of checks and balances – an agency that happens to be run by a bureaucrat who got his job thanks to a recess appointment that violated the Constitution. Is this correct?
If that's not bad enough, there is also the issue of Cordray abruptly opening the contents of the CFPB's so-called Consumer Complaint Database to the general public.
‘By sharing these complaints with the public, we are creating greater transparency in consumer financial products and services,’ said Cordray. ‘The database is good for consumers, and it is also good for honest businesses. We believe the marketplace of ideas can do great things with this data.’
Yes, never mind that the complaints within this database are posted anonymously and that none of the alleged problems being cited are being verified as accurate. If I wanted to email the CFPB and say that XYZ Bank was robbing my savings account, that statement could go live in the database without any evidence to support my claim and without my name being made public as the accuser. Transparent? Yeah, like a brick wall.
It's bad enough that Cordray has spent his CFPB term going out of his way to hurl outrageous accusations at the financial services industry. Now, he seems to be going that proverbial extra mile to insult the intelligence of the American people with absurd comments and an extravagant display of hearsay evidence.
But, then again, Cordray learned his skills from a master – a certain Massachusetts senator who famously ridiculed the aspirations of business owners while pocketing a $350,000 salary from Harvard University – and logic would dictate that the next CFPB leader share their foul view of people. And who else but the always-grim Grumpy Cat could possibly keep that dimension of contempt in motion?
‘I am free of all prejudice,’ Grumpy Cat says in another popular Internet photograph. ‘I hate everybody equally.’
Yes, Grumpy Cat, there's a job in Washington waiting for you!
– Phil Hall, editor, MortgageOrb
(Please address all comments regarding this opinion column to email@example.com.)
(Photo courtesy the Official Grumpy Cat Tumblr)