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Mick Mulvaney’s agency suffers while his recruits get massive pay raises

The staffers are being paid more than members of Congress and cabinet secretaries.

Mick Mulvaney. CREDIT: McNamee/Getty Images
Mick Mulvaney. CREDIT: McNamee/Getty Images

Acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Mick Mulvaney, has dealt out huge pay raises to the political appointees he hired to help run the agency, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Mulvaney has hired at least eight political appointees since late November, when took over a bureau he once called a “sad, sick joke.” Four appointees are making $259,500 a year and one is making $239,595. According to the AP, the salaries are higher than those for members of Congress, cabinet secretaries, and nearly all federal judges (excluding those on the Supreme Court).

Mulvaney has a reputation in Washington of being a deficit hawk staunchly opposed to any wasteful spending, yet he personally gave raises to two of his appointees before their first paycheck even arrived, according to records obtained by The New York Times Thursday.

While he may not extend his fiscally conservative policies to his appointees, Mulvaney is certainly making sure the CFPB doesn’t get a penny more than it requires.

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When it was time for the agency to submit the agency’s quarterly budget request in January, Mulvaney asked for $0 from the Federal Reserve, the bank that funds the agency, in order to be “responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars.” The White House proposed cutting the CFPB budget by about $150 million, roughly a quarter of its budget.

Mike Calhoun, president of the Center for Responsible Lending, told NPR the cuts will result in “massive layoffs and disruptions” that would “make it hard for it to do its job — a job that it’s been doing incredibly well.” The CFPB is in charge of protecting consumers from predatory practices by financial institutions like mortgage lenders or credit card companies.

Mulvaney, however, seems intent on cutting positions he doesn’t agree with.

“I found out yesterday that I’m paying people — it’s amazing what you learn in these places — I’m paying people at the CFPB to do economics research on climate change,” Mulvaney said last month at a meeting of state attorneys general. “Not sure how that happened, but we’re going to see if we can’t figure out a way to change that.”

In a statement addressing salaries, a CFPB spokesperson blamed former director Richard Cordoray, an Obama appointee, for the high salaries Mulvaney’s appointees are making, saying “non-career staff are being paid on par with the career staff who directly report to them.”

According to the Times report, the spokesperson also said it is Congress’ resposibility to change the CFPB’s compensation practices.

Mulvaney isn’t the only member of the Trump administration to raise eyebrows for giving massive pay raises to his appointees. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt also was accused of using an obscure loophole to give two of his staffers significant pay raises. When asked about the salaries by Fox News on Wednesday, Pruitt denied he approved the salary increases.