Daniel Uzi Frydman

CFPB Officials Making More than the Vice President?

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Posted by Daniel Uzi Frydman on Friday, February 17th, 2017, 3:14 PM PERMALINK

Created as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is possibly the biggest and most financially infuriating failed experiment to come out of Dodd-Frank. While the CFPB claims to be a voice for the “little guy” the Bureau’s exorbitant salary’s and spending practices highlight just how out of touch CFPB officials are with those on Main Street America.

 

As a result of power granted under Dodd-Frank and the Obama administration’s push to regulate every nook and cranny of American’s lives and the economy, the CFPB has evolved into one of the most extreme examples of unaccountable bureaucracy’s to date.  The CFPB Director is not only immune from standard removal processes by the president, but lacks any Congressional oversight because the CFPB is not subject to the appropriations process, as they receive their funding straight from the Federal Reserve, leaving the taxpayers and their elected representatives in the dust.

 

Recently released public data shows that the lack of Congressional oversight and other factors have amounted to exorbitant salaries at the CFPB, among other wreck less spending issues.  A troubling amount of CFPB employees are being paid more than members of the Senate, the Cabinet, and even the Vice President of the United States.

 

CFPB employees are enjoying some of the most fluffed salaries in all of D.C., especially when one considers they are a group of unelected bureaucrats supposedly working with the interests of the common American at heart.

 

Currently, 39 CFPB employees earn more than Vice President Mike Pence’s annual salary of $230,000. Additionally, 201 CFPB employees make more than Senate majority and minority leaders Mitch McConnell and Charles Schumer, who earn $193,000 annually. It does not stop there, 54 CFPB employees earn more than Paul Ryan’s $223,000 annual earnings. Finally, another 170 CFPB employees earn more than the Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Secretaries of Defense and State.

 

It’s all to ironic that the agency that is supposed to be looking out for the little guy is actually padding the pockets of their own employees with exorbitant salaries that rival those of some of Washington’s most powerful leaders.

 

The cherry on top of the paradox that is the CFPB is the Bureau has been plagued in the past for overspending such as headlines last year highlighting the cost of the Bureau’s $150,000,000 lair, situated across of the White House. With a purchase price of $150,000,000, it would be fair to assume that this building would come with everything a government agency would need right? Not for the CFPB, in fact, the CFPB ordered up a grand $216,000,000 renovation for the building.

 

The CFPB website claims, “We arm people with the information, steps, and tools that they need to make smart financial decisions.” Funny, when according to CFPB, their office renovations were to include a public plaza featuring “sunken gardens, cascading waterfalls on reflective carnelian granite, a ‘living wall,’ timber lounges, sculptural seating, a reflecting fountain, a covered ‘porch’ canopy with wisteria and a bronze kiosk,” costing the taxpayers $285.32 per square foot.

 

Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), former Chairman of the House Financial Services Oversight Subcommittee, criticized the CFPB last year on this issue saying, “DC may be the only place on Earth where it is considered ‘reasonable’ for a federal bureaucracy to spend over $200,000,000 to renovate a building it doesn’t own — a full $50,000,000 more than the building is worth.”

 

The exorbitant salaries, the expensive downtown building, the $216,000,000 renovation, and the “public plaza” are just a few symptoms of an out of control agency that is not subject to congressional oversight or appropriations. The 115th Congress should look to reign in the CFPB by placing the Bureau under the Congressional appropriations process.

Photo Credit: Ted Eytan

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Congress Should Dump the U.S. Sugar Program this Valentines Day.

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Posted by Daniel Uzi Frydman on Tuesday, February 14th, 2017, 1:30 PM PERMALINK

This Valentine’s Day, consumers will spend an average of $136.57 on gifts and sweets for that special someone. For these millions of love struck candy consumers, a few extra dollars in their pockets would make it an even sweeter time of year. Yet the heartbreaking truth is that the cost of purchasing that box of chocolates or candy hearts this year is artificially high thanks to the not so sweet U.S. Sugar Program.

The U.S. Sugar Program is a relic of the Great Depression, and since its inception in 1934 the program has mutated into a crony capitalistic monster, with U.S. taxpayers, consumers, and manufacturers footing the bill for this costly and backwards program.

The Sugar Program is the antithesis of free-market policy as it provides a plethora of sweetheart deals to a small handful of big sugar producers, including generous taxpayer backed subsidies, price floors, and import quotas. As a result of these sweetheart deals for Big Sugar, taxpayer costs have gone up, jobs have been destroyed, and American consumers have received only heartburn from increased prices.

Survival of the Sugar Program is a result of the sweet subsidized life support taxpayers serve up every year. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) the U.S. Sugar Program will cost taxpayers more than $138 million over the next 10 years in addition to the billions in annual hidden taxes American consumers pay at the grocery store.

In addition to taxpayer costs, such protectionist policies have created artificially high domestic sugar prices for consumers. In August of 2015, U.S. sugar prices were ¢33.13 per pound, more than double the world price of ¢15.57. It is estimated American families pay an average of $125, or a total of $2 billion, in higher grocery prices and taxes annually because of the program. While artificially high prices and restricted competition bode well for producers, domestic manufacturers alternatively have been discarded like an empty candy wrapper.

Domestic sugar-using manufacturers competing globally, but purchasing domestic sugar at a rate roughly twice that of the global price, are dealt a severe disadvantage and have had to either cuts jobs or move their business abroad. The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that for every one sugar-growing job saved by the Sugar Program, approximately three manufacturing jobs are lost. Over a 13-year period, domestic sugar-using industries have seen a 17 percent decline in employment, amounting to an annual loss of nearly 10,000 jobs in the U.S. food industry.

When it comes to winners in this sticky situation, it is not American consumers but a handful of domestic sugar producers,- unless you also count international competitors. Where the American consumer and manufacturer have suffered, less than 4,500 producers have prospered. To put it simply, the U.S. Sugar Program is forcing American consumers and taxpayers to pay artificially higher prices for sugar and sugar related products in order to subsidize and protect a small number of sugar producers from free-market competition.   

It has been almost a century since the great depression, and it is high time Congress reforms this rotten relic. As the 115th Congress begins discussions over the coming 2018 Farm Bill, lawmakers should look to trim the unnecessary fat that is the U.S. Sugar Program. Doing so will not only protect the 600,000 U.S. jobs in food industries that use sugar, but will reduce the harm to taxpayers and give consumers a much needed break on Valentine’s Day for years to come.

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