Four Big Myths About the CFPB and Its Powers

By Kate Davidson

Depending on which political party you talk to, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is either the most powerful federal agency ever created, or the most constrained. While the truth lies somewhere in between, one thing is clear: Most of the claims made about the CFPB just aren’t true. Republican assertions that the agency enjoys an unlimited budget and is exempt from congressional oversight, for example, are demonstrably false. But Democrats’ contention that the CFPB is a severely restricted agency is also misleading. “Like a lot of these things, it’s a little of both,” said Karen Shaw Petrou, a managing partner with Federal Financial Analytics. “There’s no question that other banking agencies are powerful, and the two I would cite immediately that are independent — i.e., not subject to the president and exempt from the appropriations process and somewhat limited accountability ash; are the Fed and the FDIC.” But, she said, the statute gave the CFPB a “terrific amount of authority, and far better protection from political interference or judgment … than is often the case for most regulators.”