Huh? Dems Want DOJ to Investigate Banks for Government-Caused Fees

Kate Hicks

10/14/2011 2:45:00 PM - Kate Hicks

Democrats, have you no shame?

First, they passed Dodd-Frank, which included the Durbin Amendment, a special interest addition designed to benefit retailers. The amendment, which levies heavy fees on banks to the tune of $14 billion per year, ensures that they would have no choice but to pass the additional burden onto the consumer. And sure enough, when the fees came due, those banks shifted the cost to us, in the form of highly-publicized, much-maligned debit card fees.

Then, Durbin himself and Obama--the politicians who respectively wrote and signed the law the created these fees--lambasted Bank of America for the $60 annual surcharge on debit transactions. In a stunning display of effrontery and fact-twisting, Durbin even urged BoA customers to "vote with their feet," and leave the bank.

And now, as if they didn't know their legislation was the cause for the fees, several Democratic leaders have requested that the Justice Department investigate Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and JP Morgan Chase for conspiring to enact the fees together, in violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

 

“There is clearly no problem with banks making independent business decisions based upon the landscape as they see it,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder. “Antitrust issues are raised, however, if they are attempting to facilitate group decisions on their prices, terms and conditions”

Though they conceded that they had no specific evidence that banks were colluding, the lawmakers argued that having the Justice Department police the institutions could be enough to ward off rising prices for customers.

“Mr. Attorney General, check it out,” said Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.). “Are the banks just hanging up the consumers and depositors by their ankles and shaking them and just get every little dime out of their pockets as they can?”

These lawmakers, including Welch, Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Mike Honda (D-Calif.), have approached the Department of Justice despite having no evidence that these companies are in cahoots. And of course they have no proof: the fees are not the result of price gouging, but a response to government policies. Yet again, they've fabricated an occasion to vilify the banks, the perennial bad guy.

Notice, however, that despite the new cap on how much banks can charge retailers for processing fees--ostensibly to lower the cost for consumers at the check-out--Walmart is still charging you the same amount. Someone's making more of a profit, but this time, it's not the banks.

The House Committee on Financial Services put together a great video that, once again, explains who's really responsible for the new fees, and--surprise!--it's government regulation: