- - Thursday, March 18, 2021

If there is one federal agency that symbolizes the divide between political parties on how to govern, it is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

The CFPB has been the source of congressional fireworks, negative headlines and fierce court battles since its inception 10 years ago. Democrats use it as a tool to punish businesses, and Republicans loathe it as a rogue agency that is accountable to no one.

Created under Barack Obama in response to the 2008-09 financial crisis, the CFPB was the brainchild of Wall Street’s biggest foe, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, back when she was a Harvard law professor. Mr. Obama’s CFPB director unilaterally imposed billions in as fines as he overreached in enforcing laws governing credit cards, student loans, mortgages and other financial products.

Today under President Biden, the Senate is a vote away from installing Ms. Warren’s protege, Rohit Chopra, as head of the CFPB in an effort to return the agency to its Obama-era roots as a heavy-handed, anti-business bureaucracy.

Mr. Chopra, a combative commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission who was once hired by Ms. Warren to work at the CFPB, promotes the weaponization of federal agencies resulting in more red tape, fewer jobs and an infringement on Americans’ civil liberties.

We need a CFPB director who respects the U.S. Constitution, but Mr. Chopra has a long history of bulldozing through legal protections that interfere with his partisan goals. The Senate should reject his nomination.

Mr. Chopra once called for the creation of an extra-constitutional “Public Integrity Protection Agency” that would subvert our constitutionally prescribed separation of powers. The head of this proposed agency would remain in power for up to 10 years and could police the executive branch, issue fines and impose onerous regulations.

At the FTC, Mr. Chopra has often acted beyond the scope of the law, pushing for broader rulings while making inflammatory statements such as claiming Republican senators were “shilling for predatory lenders.” The Senate Banking Committee recently deadlocked 12-12 on Mr. Chopra, sending the nomination to the full Senate for a final vote.

The banking panel’s top Republican, Sen. Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania Republican, said, “Based on Commissioner Chopra’s record, I’m deeply concerned that he’d return the CFPB to the hyper-active, law-breaking, unaccountable agency it was under Obama administration.”

Mr. Chopra’s style of governance would cripple industry with more layers of liberty-crushing rules and regulations that would ultimately curb consumers’ purchasing power. The emphasis would be on pursuing a partisan agenda long on vitriol and short on legal merit.

A prime example of Mr. Chopra’s overbearing approach is his animosity toward educational institutions he dislikes. He has long targeted for-profit colleges, and has pushed at the FTC to expand penalties against these schools.

America faces a massive skills shortage, and the government should encourage people to further their educations instead of attacking schools simply because they are for-profit. It is doubtful these schools would receive a fair hearing under a CFPB led by Mr. Chopra.

This history of aggressive enforcement actions should scare businesses and consumers. In just a few months, the Biden administration has shown a dangerous propensity to expand the power of government at the expense of the American people, and Mr. Chopra’s nomination fits this pattern. As always, we need leaders who prioritize good governance over politics. Unfortunately, Mr. Chopra’s track record indicates he will do the opposite and pursue his political goals above all else.

• Chris Carr is the attorney general of Georgia.

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