This election season, we rarely get a chance to talk about policy issues that don’t go viral on social platforms. But that doesn’t make it any less important to highlight these issues — especially when Washington is making decisions that affect your wallet.
Six years ago, a lot of people were debating our financial system and making rules for Wall Street, hoping to bring about more of what was good for Main Street. Unfortunately, some special interests used the crisis to their advantage, creating more revenue for big-box retailers. A last-minute addition called the Durbin Amendment was snuck into the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
This amendment had nothing to do with Wall Street or the financial crisis, but it has sure hurt Main Street since it was implemented.
Six years later, this provision continues to harm the very people the special interest lobbyists promised it would protect — consumers, small businesses and so-called “exempt” financial institutions like local credit unions and community banks.
As president and CEO of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates (LSCU), representing the 260 credit unions in Alabama and Florida and their seven million member-owners, I work every day to help protect our credit unions from increasing burdensome regulations brought forth by bad decisions in Washington.
These regulations — and expenditures that come with them — create undue hardships on credit unions and our members, making it more difficult to offer our members credit cards with low interest rates, causing longer mortgage approval times, and taking energies away from serving our members as we work to comply with provisions that don’t improve our functionality or services.
Bad ideas like the Durbin Amendment, which also required the Federal Reserve to institute price controls on interchange fees for debit card transactions, have only helped big-box retailer special interests at the expense of small mom-and-pop stores and credit unions.
How did this happen?
The $6 billion to $8 billion in annual savings that big box retailers got from caps on interchange fees was supposed to be passed back to the consumers. Unfortunately, most of the revenue — an estimated $36 billion to date — has been kept by the big-box stores.
But there is hope.
Two efforts are underway to repeal the Durbin Amendment in Washington: the stand-alone measure H.R. 5465, and Section 335 of the Financial CHOICE Act.
A coalition of organizations has joined together to let policymakers know the current policy is not helping Main Street.
The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has joined other trade groups in writing a letter explaining that repeal of the Durbin Amendment is the only way to reverse the damaging impact on credit unions and other financial institutions, small businesses and their customers.
We encourage credit union members and all concerned Americans to speak up, too. Let your legislators know that you stand behind consumers, small businesses, and your local credit unions by joining the effort at StopTheMerchantMarkup.com.
Let’s put an end to harmful Washington policies and create an environment that fosters economic growth for all.
Patrick La Pine was appointed president and chief executive officer of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU) & Affiliates seven years ago. LSCU represents the interests of Alabama’s and Florida’s 260 credit unions and their approximately 7 million credit union members.