Mick Mulvaney— Donald Trump’s budget director and the interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau— told a group of bankers on Tuesday that his secret to success has been long-term corruption. He also advised them to pay up, if they expect to receive favors from Donald Trump.
Mulvaney told banking industry executives they should be pressing lawmakers to pursue their own agendas, explaining how during his time in the House of Representatives he would only meet lobbyists if they contributed to his campaign.
“We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress,” he told the American Bankers Association conference, according to The New York Times. “If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.”
This is a big deal because it represents the current transactional nature of American politics. According to the Washington Post, “Multiple Republicans admitted last fall during the debate over tax cuts that they worried about losing campaign contributions if they didn’t vote for the legislation.” Mulvaney is encouraging a government run by corporations rather than the public, and the punishment of lawmakers who refuse to reside in the pockets of lobbyists.
This is also a big deal because as the acting head of a consumer watchdog group, Mulvaney has only the interests of big business in mind; The Times notes that Mulvaney “was tapped by President Trump in November” to run the bureau, partly “because of his promise to sharply curtail it.”
And he has. “Since then,” reports the Times, Mulvaney “has frozen all new investigations and slowed down existing inquiries by requiring employees to produce detailed justifications.” He also restricted the group’s access to bank data, moved to ease regulations against payday lenders, and stripped the consumer watchdog group’s powers of enforcement.
During his speech, Mulvaney also posited to shut down CFPB’s complaint database— one which is used by thousands of consumers yearly “to file complaints about debt collection practices, their mortgages, credit cards and other matters.”
“I don’t see anything in here that I have to run a Yelp for financial services sponsored by the federal government,” he told the group of bankers. “I don’t see anything in here that says that I have to make all of those public.” If Mulvaney could have his way, the federal government and big business would be two peas in a pod crushing the American public.
People noticed. Congressional democrats accused Mulvaney of practicing pay-to-play politics. Sen. Bob Casey called Mulvaney “a disgrace.”
North Carolina’s attorney general Josh Stein wrote Mulvaney “has gone too far.”
Mick Mulvaney, the President's budget director and head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has gone too far. pic.twitter.com/vVh7cTCNWl
— Josh Stein (@JoshStein_) April 25, 2018
California congressman Rep. Eric Swalwell tweeted that he was not surprised.
I’m not surprised @MickMulvaneyOMB confessed he would only meet with lobbyists who gave him money. He once told me on the @HouseFloor he was voting against a bipartisan bill of mine because @Heritage_Action would “score” him negatively.
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) April 25, 2018
— Adam Smith (@asmith83) April 25, 2018
Conservative New York Post columnist John Podhoretz went so far as to liken Mulvaney to a Bond villain:
Mick Mulvaney has three roles. He's the OMB director. He runs the Consumer protection agency. And he's the monologuing villain in a Bond film.
— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) April 25, 2018
While many others noted that his brazen, unabashed confession is nothing if not a hallmark of the Trump administration. New York magazine columnist Jonathan Chait said it best:
“Mulvaney didn’t offer this as a sad concession to reality but an actual principle of governance he had personally abided.
People in government might have always given their donors more influence over their decisions, but they at least pretended that was not the case in public.
The Trump administration is not even bothering to put up a facade….The completely accurate sense that Trump and his party are out to get themselves and their friends rich is the administration’s gaping vulnerability.”
If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.