Mick Mulvaney, the former S.C. congressman who’s spent his career cutting government spending and regulation, now finds himself with authority over both executive branch spending and financial industry regulation. Maybe.

As a Republican congressman, Mulvaney had a singular focus on reducing government spending. The Freedom Caucus he helped create made life hard for Republican leaders, pushing for cuts to Planned Parenthood and sparking endless fights over the Affordable Care Act. As Republicans in Congress wrestled with the Obama administration, Mulvaney proposed eliminating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an independent agency created to root out and punish predatory financial industry scofflaws that led to the Great Recession.

As the head of President Donald Trump’s Office of Management and Budget, Mulvaney has his hands on the purse strings of a huge chunk of federal spending. Directed by Trump, whose businesses, in an effort to make a buck, have tip-toed around the law time and again, Mulvaney said he was set to “bring this business attitude towards the way we run the government.”

But after the Obama-appointed Consumer Financial Protection director resigned on Friday, Mulvaney was apparently also given the keys to the watchdog agency he once called “a sick, sad” joke and which the president says has “devastated” financial institutions.

Now, a power struggle seems to be underway with the backing of the White House fighting for the “deconstruction of the administrative state.”


Before resigning Friday, CFPB Director Richard Cordray named chief of staff Leandra English his deputy director and presumed acting director. Sunday night, English filed a federal lawsuit to block Mulvaney’s appointment to lead the agency. The suit identifies Mulvaney as “the person claiming to be acting director.”

Both reported to work on Monday.

A memo from Mulvaney this morning directed rank and file CFPB staff to disregard directions and notify agency lawyers about any official directives from English. Senior OMB staffers have been shadowing Mulvaney this morning, posting cheery pictures of early briefings on Twitter, and directing media inquiries to OMB instead of the financial watchdog.

We’ll report back if we find out who’s in charge here.


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