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Mulvaney mulls plan that could put CFPB employees in their basement

If's a lot like "Office Space," with Mulvaney effectively playing the role of Lumbergh, while the CFPB's staff is Milton.
Mick Mulvaney
Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney listens to a question during a press briefing at the White House, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in Washington.

If you've ever seen the cult classic "Office Space," you know the relationship between Bill Lumbergh and Milton Waddams is a difficult one.

Lumbergh (played by the amazing Gary Cole) clearly doesn't like or respect Milton (played by the amazing Stephen Root), and has no use for Milton's work. In fact, if it were up to Lumbergh, the "squirrelly looking guy" who "mumbles a lot" would stop working in the office altogether.

With that in mind, Lumbergh takes steps to make Milton as uncomfortable as possible, moving his cubicle, using his work space for storage, and in the final indignity, eventually moving Milton and his desk into the basement.

All of this came to mind yesterday reading Bloomberg Politics' report on the latest developments at the CFPB.

Mick Mulvaney says he's legally barred from shutting down the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a regulator he once called a "sick" joke.But the agency's acting director could move dozens of employees to the basement of its Washington headquarters. And he might try to relocate other staff members to Dallas.Such options are being proposed by his top aides as Mulvaney seeks to cut spending at the Republican-loathed watchdog by tens of millions of dollars, according to an internal cost-savings analysis that was obtained by Bloomberg News. Another budget-trimming idea: making employees share desks.

In this case, obviously, Mulvaney is effectively playing the role of Lumbergh, while the CFPB's staff is Milton. The former doesn't like, respect, or see any need for the latter's work, so he may do as Lumbergh did, making the agency's employees even more uncomfortable.

John Czwartacki, the CFPB's chief communications officer, didn't exactly deny any of this, telling Bloomberg, "All options are on the table as we work to make the bureau more efficient and effective."

This comes on the heels of news that Mulvaney has effectively stopped all enforcement actions at the CFPB, while also taking outrageous steps to help the payday-loan industry.

The South Carolina Republican has also been working on changing the name of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection – critics believe he’s trying to lower the agency’s profile and make it less accessible – while also advancing a plan to make it harder for American consumers to file complaints against financial institutions suspected of abuses.

Mulvaney also recently made a startling case to a group of wealthy bankers that the key to lobbying success in the Trump era is buying access and influence with members of Congress through large campaign contributions.