On Monday, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin took to the Senate floor to deliver scathing remarks aimed at Bank of America. Armed with a plastic BofA debit card, Durbin complained about the bank's new $5/month fee for debit cards, calling it a "gouge" on consumers and urged customers to leave:
Perhaps more noteworthy than his complaints, however, is the story behind the bank's new fees. Bank of America isn't the only bank hiking these arbitrary fees. Wells Fargo is grumbling about a possible new $3/month fee and J.P. Morgan Chase isn't far behind on this bandwagon. But these new fees aren't just a way that evil, money-grubbing banks can "gouge" customers, as Durbin would have you believe.
According to Bank of America, the new fees are a direct response to anticipated losses stemming from the so-called "Durbin Amendment" to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, signed into law by President Obama last summer. Durbin's amendment granted the Federal Reserve the authority to regulate all debit card interchange fees. In turn, the Fed recently announced that its new federal regulations combining fees, restrictions and caps will likely cost the banking industry nearly $14 billion every year.
Who really expected the banks to just swallow such a cost? Well, apparently Sen. Durbin did because now he's complaining that these banks are having to increase their fees to cover the costs. And now, because consumers are having to foot the bill for the regulations which Durbin himself championed, he's encouraging them to "get the heck out of that bank."
Ah, don't you just love that circular liberal logic?
Asked by POLITICO whether the Durbin amendment had become a political liability given the criticism, Durbin replied without hesitation: “No way.”
“What I saw here was a fundamental unfairness, price fixing by Visa and Mastercard that was being executed by the biggest banks in America and Wall Street banks to the detriment of retailers and consumers across America,” Durbin said. “If you look at my record, you know I’ve never backed off this kind of a fight.”
“There are a lot of reasons I ran for office, but protecting the profits and bottom lines of banks and credit card companies was not one of them,” he told reporters later on the conference call. “I have looked at my job … as a spokesman doing his best to help consumers – and in this case retailers and businesses – across America at a very difficult time of recession.”
Durbin's *thoughtful* concern for the welfare of businesses and financial institutions is precisely one of the reasons our economy has not been able to bounce back from recession and why Obamanomics has been such a failure. Ostracizing businesses (read: employers, investors, economy drivers, etc.) is no way to get the economy going again.
(These gimmicks are nothing new for the political left. In 2008, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer pulled a similar stunt with IndyMac Bank.)
And even when progressive are warned of the (un)intended consequences of their policies (see: ObamaCare will cut access to health care), they rely on emotional arguments to force their liberal agenda:
Durbin shrugged off such warnings, suggesting that those who disagreed with him were motivated by greed and “on the side of Wall Street banks and credit card companies.” He absurdly claimed that the debit card fee cut would help to prevent banks “up on Wall Street” from causing another financial crisis — a non sequitur so completely disingenuous that it can only be called a lie.
"If we had a 'Dim Bulb of the Year' award, we would give it to Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill," the Washington Examiner editorial board wrote over the weekend. "How better to honor someone who so ostentatiously proposes a policy with obvious unintended consequences, then gets angry when they predictably come to pass?"
Durbin isn't the only one complaining about his own amendment. President Obama signed the darned thing into law yet now insists that the banks "don’t have some inherent right just to, you know, get a certain amount of profit, if your customers are being mistreated." Instead, like a typical progressive weenie, Obama is suggesting his newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) step in to stop the banks from charging such fees, calling it "not good business practice." Big government to the rescue!
So, as the Examiner so rightly points out, "Every time you pay that extra 'Durbin Fee' to use your bank card, remember that this is what happens when 'progressives' govern. They undo progress and make ordinary Americans' lives harder."