Senator John McCain passes away, Student Loan Ombudsman of the CFPB resigns, and more…
IN THE NEWS
- U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), former naval aviator and two-time presidential candidate who championed bipartisanship and patriotism, passed away at the age of 81. In the final years of his political career he was at the forefront of several regulatory battles, including his vote against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and his endorsement of the GOP tax plan that was passed in December 2017. In his farewell statement, McCain described his life of public service as a privilege.
- The Student Loan Ombudsman of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) resigned in protest of what he called its “undercutting enforcement of the law” and its “undermining the Bureau’s independence.” In his resignation letter, Seth Frotman said that the CFPB was no longer “strong” nor “independent” under Acting Director Mick Mulvaney’s leadership. Mulvaney’s leadership “betrays” American families and “sacrifices the financial future of millions,” Frotman said.
- White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow reportedly stated that the Trump Administration is “taking a look” at regulating Google searches. Kudlow’s reported comments came after President Donald Trump claimed that Google’s search algorithm favored left-leaning media and accused Google of “suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information.” Representative Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, tweeted in response that algorithms are not “based on ideology” and that the “First Amendment prevents regulating speech of private companies.”
- The U.S. Office of the Trade Representative released details about a “preliminary agreement” with Mexico to update the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The updated terms, published in three separate fact sheets, addressed issues affecting agriculture, manufacturing, and modernization of trade.
- In a 69-26 vote, the U.S. Senate confirmed Richard Clarida, currently a professor of economics at Columbia University, to be vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, replacing Daniel Tarullo, who resigned in 2017. Clarida is President Trump’s second addition to the Fed, following the confirmation of Jerome Powell as chairman.
- A federal judge struck down provisions from three executive orders which would have made it easier to fire federal workers. President Trump had signed the orders in May and noted the need for the government to “operate more efficiently and more securely.” U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia wrote that the orders “impair the ability of agency officials to keep an open mind, and to participate fully in give-and-take discussions, during collective bargaining negotiations.”
- The U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) invited comments about a new proposed regulatory framework to govern the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), which was enacted in 1977 to encourage banks to expand lending in low- and moderate-income communities. The update to the CRA regulations would improve lending and banking services for communities, establish metrics for bank ratings, and reduce the cost of evaluating bank performance under the CRA. Comments will be accepted for 75 days.
- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) issued six new opinion letters. The opinion letters address issues such as organ donors’ qualification for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act and whether employees can be compensated for time spent at wellness activities and benefits fairs. WHD Deputy Administrator Bryan Jarrett stated that the letters help “provide greater clarity for American job creators and employees.”
- The Financial Reporting Council (FRC)—the United Kingdom’s and the Republic of Ireland’s regulator of auditors, accountants, and actuaries—fined Grant Thornton four million pounds for the accounting firm’s mishandling of its audits of Nichols Plc and the University of Salford. In its investigation of Grant Thornton, the FRC found “widespread and serious inadequacies” in the accounting firm’s ability to be an independent and unconflicted auditor.
WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK
- Environmental cost-benefit analyses (CBAs) have become more statistically sophisticated, but Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries often make decisions that conflict with CBAs, found Giles Atkinson, Ben Groom, and Susana Mourato of the London School of Economics and Nils Axel Braathen of the OECD Secretariat in a recent update to their book, Cost Benefit Analysis and the Environment. They characterize institutions’ use of CBA as a political and economic decision, finding that structures that subject institutions’ decision to scrutiny or peer review may “facilitate a more prominent role for CBA.”
- In a recent article for the Harvard Business Review, Larry Downes, senior industry and innovation fellow at the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy, addressed the wide-ranging implications of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. Downes argued that stricter regulations on data privacy will translate to disadvantages for consumers, including higher prices for ad-free services as well as a new “barrage” of privacy controls that interrupt everyday Internet use.
- In an article for the Environmental Law Reporter, Blake Hudson of the University of Houston Law Center discussed how geographic delineation policies—policies limiting development in designated zones—require relatively few economic, human, and temporal resources. Hudson noted that such policies align with conservative principles by, for example, favoring state and local governments and setting simple and unambiguous rules.