Magazine article Independent Banker

The Old Ballgame

Magazine article Independent Banker

The Old Ballgame

Article excerpt

After a long summer and an even longer fall, we are still only in the early innings for hardball congressional action over historic financial reform. The House has taken its swing at bat and advanced a massive 1,279-page bill (the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act) that contains the good, the bad and the ugly. The Wall Street reform part of the bill is good, but its consumer-protection provisions are anywhere from bad to ugly.

Now the Senate Banking Committee is on deck and preparing for its turn at the plate.

ICBA has not yet endorsed a final financial reform bill. Though we were encouraged by many of the reform measures advanced through the House (and disappointed by others), we will vigorously seek substantial improvements in the Senate-particularly provisions for the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency, an agency that should not have authority over FDIC-insured banks. The banking industry is already overregulated and staggering under its burden. If the Congress wants to enact more stringent consumer protections, it should impose them on the unregulated financial firms that triggered the financial crisis.

So far, community banks have earned a high batting average. Major ICBA priorities aimed at ending too-big-to-fail and bringing greater regulatory and assessment fairness for the nation's community banks were enacted in the House bill. And we dodged some high and tight heat, including the unwise mortgage "cramdown" bankruptcy provisions.

Many more fastballs, curveballs and bean balls will be thrown that could change the score of financial reform. But we still have a very good chance to improve the final outcome, for our customers, our communities and our community banks nationwide.

Since last spring's warm-up, when the Obama administration threw out the first pitch on financial reform, we have steadily built our momentum from the grassroots level. …

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