The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is an agency of the U.S. government created in the wake of the financial crisis of 2007-08 with the explicit purpose of protecting consumers in the (from the?) financial services sector, and hopefully preventing the generational clusterf*ck that was the Great Recession from ever happening again.
Of course, since the CFPB was doing good things that helped American society become better for almost everyone, the Trump administration has been doing just about everything in its power to ruin the CFPB, like it has for the other federal agencies.
Remember that time the Cuyahoga River was so choked with industrial debris that it began sprouting tongues of flame five stories high, causing even noted enemy of the common good Richard Nixon to recognize that the Environmental Protection Agency should be created?
Well, Trump put anti-science and pro-moron Scott Pruitt in charge of the EPA.
When Pruitt was finally forced out for using taxpayer dollars like his dad’s bar tab at the country club, Trump then stuck coal industry lobbyist Andrew Wheeler at the head of the EPA, who’s also been doing his best to make America’s rivers flammable again.
Likewise, the Trump administration put Rick Perry, who famously recommended that the U.S. Department of Energy be eliminated, in charge of, you guessed it, the U.S. Department of Energy.
The number of Trump administration goons who hate the agencies they have been selected to lead is literally too long to include in this article, but suffice it to say, I could go on at length.
Now, the Trump administration is applying the same consistent strategy of putting the fox in charge of the hen-house to the student loan division of the CFPB.
The Dodd-Frank Act, which created the CFPB, named only a handful of specific positions. Among them was the CFPB Student Loan Ombudsman, whose job it is to protect student loan borrowers and to “prepare an annual report and make appropriate recommendations to the Secretary of the Treasury, the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Secretary of Education, and Congress.”
So, apparently, in Trump’s eyes, the perfect man for the job was student loan industry executive Robert Cameron.
Cameron’s prior position was with Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, better known as FedLoan Servicing, and better-still known as the place you call so that you can wait on hold for an hour before having whatever problem you’re having with your student debt ignored.
This organization has been repeatedly cited for poor industry practices, and is among the top three companies that the CFPB’s student loan division receives complaints about. It is responsible for the mishandling of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program — if you recall, that program was supposed to forgive student debt for those who worked in public service or nonprofit positions and made loan payments for 10 years.
The program turned out to basically give people false hope and stick them with an insurmountable debt after luring them into low-paying but societally beneficial positions. When I wrote about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program this spring, at that point only 206 people in the entire country had actually received student loan debt forgiveness under the program, out of 41,221 who submitted applications to the program.
On top of being the place that tells you they put your debt in the wrong imaginary debt basket, so no, it won’t be forgiven, please continue to pay it off until you’re dead, Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency employees were given a “fail” rating on interactions with borrowers 11 percent of the time, according to the Department of Education.
The student loan servicing industry average is four percent. “We’re ruining your life and being a dick about it too” isn’t the FedLoan Servicing corporate motto, but hey, I’m willing to let them use it.
Cameron had a job to do at FedLoan Servicing, and in all fairness to this guy, you can’t really blame him for doing it. You don’t blame the fox for being a fox, you blame the poulter who put him in charge of the chickens.
Still, Cameron probably doesn’t belong in an important position within the agency that is supposed to stop people like him from doing the kinds of things that they did within the $1.5 trillion student loan market.
For most of our history, politicians, even Republicans, thought that the government could do big, meaningful things, and do them well.
Richard Nixon believed that when he created the EPA.
Theodore Roosevelt believed that when he destroyed the commercial monopolies that were then taking over segments of the American economy.
Dwight Eisenhower believed it when he sponsored and signed the bill that created America’s interstate highway system.
Yet, for the Trump administration, the only solution seems to be appointing the arsonist to be the fire marshal, and burning it all down.