One of the most dangerous of many Donald Trump deplorables who have been appointed to high-ranking offices in his administration is former South Carolina Congressman Mick Mulvaney, long a loyal friend of special interests.
Mulvaney made a name for himself in 2015 as the cocky leader of the so-called "shutdown caucus," a group of Republican hardliners who favored shutting down the government because President Obama's proposed budget extension included continued funding for Planned Parenthood.
Fellow Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain has no love for the guy because Mulvaney routinely opposed increases in defense spending. He wound up voting against approving Mulvaney's appointment as Trump's director of the Office of Management and Budget because if Trump was such a fan of the military, how could he name someone like Mulvaney to his inner circle?
You may remember that among Mulvaney's initial proposals shortly after being confirmed was to cut social welfare programs like Meals on Wheels and several after-school programs because, he claimed, "We're not going to spend money on programs that cannot show that they actually deliver the promises that we've made to people." His remarks precipitated a national outcry.
Nothing's come of that because until just last week the budget has been languishing somewhere in the mess that marks this administration and that, apparently, has given Mulvaney a lot of free time on his hands.
So, when Richard Cordray resigned as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — one of the best ideas to come out of the Dodd-Frank financial reforms after the Great Recession — Trump sent Mulvaney to take over until he finds a permanent director.
Always beholden to special interests, Mulvaney immediately proceeded to put the brakes on the CFPB's consumer protections that had resulted in relief for tens of thousands of consumers who were being victimized by usurious bank fees, mortgage fraud and credit card abuse. For once, consumers had been returned to a level playing field with the corporate conglomerates that saw them as easy prey to pad their bottom lines.
One of the last acts by Cordray was to put into place restrictions on the notorious payday loan industry that has milked the most financially vulnerable American workers, charging fees that amount to 500-600 percent interest on short-term loans that often saddle their customers with never-ending debt.
So guess what? Our friend Mike Mulvaney is showing once again that he doesn't work in the public's interest, but for the special interests that have traditionally greased the skids of his election campaigns. Since taking the reins at the bureau he has slowed the new rule and dropped a case brought by Cordray against a payday lender from South Carolina that just happens to be a big contributor to Mulvaney's election campaigns. Indeed, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Mulvaney has collected $63,000 in donations from the sordid industry.
CRP reported that in total, since 2010 payday lenders have contributed $13 million to mostly Republican congressmen. They've given commensurate amounts to state legislators as well, including in Wisconsin. Must be a pretty good business to spend money like that on politicians.
This is what's taking place behind the scenes every day while the media focuses on Trump's tweets and outlandishness.
Coming to the rescue of payday lenders over the well-being of the working poor, I'm sad to say, isn't making American great again.
Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @DaveZweifel. Zweifel is the co-author, along with John Nichols, of the new book "The Capital Times: A Proudly Radical Newspaper's Century Long Fight for Justice and Peace," published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press. It's available on the Historical Society Press website, and at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
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