Just over three years ago, subsequent to the Dodd-Frank financial "reform" bill passing, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau came into existence.
As Elizabeth Warren's intellectual baby, it should be no surprise to conservatives that the CFPB is an exercise in the biggest kind of government.
However, in the third year of the CFPB's existence, a bevy of stories have broken that underline that the bureau really might just be one of history's greatest illustrations of how big government fails to deliver on its promises, wastes money, benefits not the most needy but rather an entrenched class of bureaucrats, and actually does harm to people historically less advantaged in society. It is, in fact, a case study of what not to do where government is concerned.
The CFPB's mission is, as you might expect, is allegedly to protect consumers.
You could be forgiven for thinking that in light of this, the agency would do things like collect fees and penalties from financial institutions bilking consumers and put the money in the hands of the consumers who were harmed. Agree with the concept or not, it seems like a safe bet that that is how most would view the role of a consumer protection agency.
But it turns out that according to a June 2014 performance audit from the Government Accountability Office commissioned by Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), as of May of this year, the CFPB had collected more than $139 million in civil penalties but allocated a mere $31 million to harmed consumer compensation.
It turns out that despite having “developed and implemented a number of control activities for administering and monitoring the Civil Penalty Fund...CFPB did not document the factors the Fund Administrator considered in determining the allocation of funds for consumer education and financial literacy programs for the first allocation period.”
So, not only are they apparently doing a bad job of paying out money they are supposed to be putting back in the hands of those harmed - their "ward," so to speak - they are also failing to keep track of how decisions about money spent via the Civil Penalty Fund are made altogether.
So, if the CFPB is not spending money compensating consumers where they were wronged by big, powerful financial firms, what are they doing with the money they take in? Well… they're paying their own staff lots of money to sit around and do very little.
Via the Washington Examiner:
“Hundreds of CFPB officials are paid more than Supreme Court Justices, senior White House officials, members of Congress, and all 50 state governors, according to a Washington Examiner analysis of salary data for the board's 1,204 workers.
The watchdog board, for example, pays 56 employees more than the $199,700 Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke receives. Federal Reserve governors get $179,700, a figure exceeded by 111 CFPB workers.
Six-figure salaries go to 741 employees, or 61% of the CFPB workforce, with one in four taking home $150,00 or more.
Individual median income in the U.S. is $29,965, according to the U.S. Census, and $69,821 for households.
Fifty-six CFPB officers earn more than all presidential cabinet secretaries who earn $199,500.
There are 173 agency staff who earn more than all elected Members of Congress and 209 employees who earn more than all 50 U.S. governors.
Congressional salaries are set at $174,000 (with a few exceptions for top leaders), while gubernatorial compensation ranges from Maine Gov. Paul LePage's $70,000 to $165,288 for California's Jerry Brown.
Fourteen agency staffers are paid more than Vice President Biden who earns $227,000.
Nineteen CPFB staffers earn more than Speaker of the House John Boehner, who is third in line for succession to the presidency and is paid $223,500.
Thirty-seven CFPB employees get more than eight Supreme Court justices, who are paid $213,500. Nineteen CFPB staffers make more than Chief Justice John Roberts who gets $223,500.
Top White House salaries are capped at $172,200, but 181 employees are paid more than the president's chief of staff, senior counsel and press secretary.”
As always, it pays to work in government. But it's not just big paychecks. They're getting a nice, new luxury office thanks to a refurbishment, the bill for which is constantly increasing, too.
As the Washington Examiner, one of the few media outlets paying any attention whatsoever to what is going on at the CFPB, notes, the agency has been attacked for spending more per square foot on this refurbishment than the Trump Tower and the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas each cost to build. In addition, the CFPB is also under fire for letting its refurbishment costs spiral from an initial estimated $55 million to up to $145 million as of January this year. As of June 2014, renovation costs for the headquarters are now up to $215.8 million.
What, specifically, will the money be spent on? A rooftop kiddie play yard, a finely-decorated new lobby and landscaping. Because those are essential things, you know.
CFPB spending increased nearly 50 percent in a year, thanks in part to its refurbishment costs. But the growing bureaucracy is having negative effects far beyond skyrocketing redecoration bills.
The CFPB found itself embroiled in a scandal involved alleged widespread racial and gender discrimination at the agency. How could this possibly happen at the brainchild of one of America's foremost progressive thinkers, you ask? Well, the CFPB Director will have you know that the rapid buildup of the agency - call it massive, fast, big government bloat - is why all that nasty stuff went down.
This is the story of big government. It fails to deliver on its promises. It wastes money and pads the bank accounts of rather well-off individuals instead of helping the people it was mandated to help. It engages in the same discrimination that its advocates claim to want to eradicate, and that big government will help to stop.
Big government pays big money. And we're the ones signing the check.