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death by bureaucracy
April 16, 2019

President Trump's Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney slowly took apart the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau before finding himself in the White House, The New York Times Magazine reported Tuesday.

The CFPB was created, in part, by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) following the 2008 financial crisis. Per the Times, she envisioned it as an "economic equalizer for American consumers." But Mulvaney, then a member of Congress, was a fierce opponent of Warren's idea, believing it gave the federal government too much power over the market. Despite his disdain, he didn't hesitate to take over as the agency's director when called upon by Trump in 2017.

Slowly but surely, the Times reports, Mulvaney utilized bureaucratic inefficiencies, such as hiring his own people as "twins" for incumbent senior officials, to slow the agency's efforts down. The new hires, some of whom had little experience in consumer enforcement, reportedly brought with them their political agendas and served as barriers between the officials and Mulvaney, making communication difficult. Junior staffers also told the Times they had to play games of "telephone" to figure out what was going on in the agency because Mulvaney was so secretive.

But the dismantled efficiency wasn't all planned out — some of it had to do with inexperience. The Times writes that because Mulvaney had more experience interrogating regulatory agencies than running them, his own priorities "began to suffer." For instance, after he announced he was reconsidering a regulation, Mulvaney was unexpectedly stumped by how much red tape he had to go through to rewrite it. His staffers were forced to anyhow, despite having no new data that would serve as a basis for replacing the rule. The process stalled and the old rule might end up staying put unless Mulvaney's team comes up with something new by August. Read more at The New York Times Magazine. Tim O'Donnell

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