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Graves supporting big banks’ ability to impose new user fees

POSTED: November 3, 2011 1:00 a.m.

U.S. Rep. Tom Graves should learn that two wrongs don't make a right. Recently, I wrote him as not only an area resident but a former professor of money and banking, outlining how such megabanks as Bank of America and Wells Fargo have begun abusing their customers' trust, and the public trust as well, by imposing new debit card usage fees of up to $5 a month.

The immediate reason these megabanks cite for imposing these new fees, as well as other restrictive and costly impositions on the banking public such as restrictions on free checking accounts and increased fees for other services, is congressional limits (through the recent Dodd-Frank bill, named for its sponsors) on what they could charge merchants for customer debit card purchases.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who led the fight against bank charges averaging 400 percent of the cost to the banks, has told the public to leave those institutions now charging customers to access their own money, a sentiment with which I agree totally. Most smaller banks, credit unions and thrift institutions have not imposed this abusive new fee.

But Graves doesn't agree. Here is a direct excerpt from the congressman's reply to my complaint:

"While I believe it is important to protect consumers from harmful business practices, the provisions of Dodd-Frank were hastily created during an economically turbulent time, enabling lawmakers to play on Americans' fear and vulnerability.

"As more of Dodd-Frank's provisions and regulations are coming to fruition, it is becoming abundantly clear that Dodd-Frank will harm Americans and our economy much more than help them. I believe this is wrong, which is why I strongly opposed Dodd-Frank."

Graves also makes clear that it was the "Democrat-controlled Congress" which, he feels, rammed Dodd-Frank through both Houses.

Even were the congressman correct - and his view is both oversimplified and distorted - it is clear from his own words that he thinks that two wrongs make a right; he believes that the wrong (as he sees it) of the Dodd-Frank legislation justifies the new debit card fees and other adverse actions by the megabanks against their own customers.

One is led to wonder how many other pieces of legislation Graves has supported or opposed, not on their merits or demerits, but rather to "correct" (as he sees it) some other legislation he dislikes.

That approach to government is a very slippery slope, as it replaces sound and proper decision-making on behalf of his constituency with a desire to retaliate against something Graves dislikes, particularly if sponsored by the formerly "Democrat-controlled Congress."

It is indeed a good thing that there were no Democrats when our Constitution and Bill of Rights passed the Continental Congress, or Graves might have been opposing them as well.

Eugene Elander


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