by Jeff Sovern
This transcript of the young Kathleen Kraninger has recently been unearthed:
Adult: Did you eat the chocolate chip cookies?
Kraninger: I will stipulate that there were chocolate chip cookies and that they are no longer here.
Adult: Did you eat them?
Kraninger: I understand what you're getting at.
Adult: Did you take the cookies?
Kraninger: That's a loaded word.
Adult: For the last time, did you eat the cookies?
Kraninger: That's being looked into and I think it would be inappropriate for me to prejudge it.
Adult: I have only five minutes, so I have to move on. Did you drink the chocolate milk?
This parody was inspired by CFPB Director Kraninger's testimony before the House Financial Services and the Senate Banking Committee on the CFPB's semi-annual report to Congress, and if you have listened to that testimony as I now have, the parody will sound depressingly familiar. You may remember how Acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney took the ridiculous position that he didn't have to answer Congress's questions during his appearances (though he often did answer the questions). Director Kraninger seems to agree she doesn't have to answer some questions, but instead of saying so, she deflects them. I don't know much about Congress's power to hold people in contempt, but I wonder if this would be an appropriate place to use that power. We hear a lot of charges that the CFPB is unaccountable. Well, that would be another way to hold the Director accountable.
I can understand one reason why Director Kraninger might not want to answer the questions directly: she wants to give the justification for her decision, but once the questioners get the answer they want--often a yes or no--they cut her off, so she jumps straight to defending herself so she can get that into the record. But the committees include many members who are sympathetic to her, and they could give her an opportunity to explain her decisions, if they wanted to. Perhaps those members have their own agendas or don't want to devote their scant time to defending decisions that may be unpopular or difficult to defend. In any event, Director Kraninger would do better to answer the questions she is asked.