by Jeff Sovern
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is a bank regulator that, like the CFPB, has a single head rather than a commission structure and gets its funding outside the appropriations process. I have pointed out before two things about this: first, that unlike with the CFPB, Republicans have been happy to confirm OCC directors. And second, that the OCC has historically been very protective of banks, even going to court to block the New York Attorney General from trying to enforce fair lending laws against the banks the OCC regulates, and declaring state anti-predatory lending laws inapplicable to the OCC's clients--subjects of the OCC's regulation. But now that the OCC has a new leader appointed by the president, Thomas Curry, Senator Mike Crapo, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, has called for a commission structure for the OCC too.
What is behind this shift? It could be an honestly-held view. But another possibility is that commissions suddenly look more attractive than directors when a banking agency is not led by a former bank lobbyist, as was true for much of the Bush administration. Another possibility is that pushing for a commission undermines arguments that the Republicans are leaving the OCC alone while tackling the CFPB structure because they want to protect banks rather than consumers. And unlike with the CFPB, Republicans won't have to make good on the argument for years by blocking confirmation of the head of the OCC because they just confirmed a new one last year.
And as for the merits of commission versus director, the SEC is a commission. How's that working out?