Late-60s Saw Birth of That Long-Lasting Favorite-Reg Z

By Cocheo, Steve | ABA Banking Journal, October 2008 | Go to article overview

Late-60s Saw Birth of That Long-Lasting Favorite-Reg Z


Cocheo, Steve, ABA Banking Journal


The late William Proxmire, U.S. Senator from Wisconsin and past chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, made a name as a scourge of government waste. But among the legacies he left to banking was the Truth in Lending Act, implemented by Regulation Z. The act was signed by the President in May 1968, Reg Z's first incarnation was published in October of that year, and the new law became effective July 1, 1969.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The law that became one of bankers' continuing compliance duties took some time to gestate, being before Congress in some form since 1960. In a June 1967 Washington column, Banking opined:

"Truth may yet be the death of 'Truth-in-Lending.' As the Senate Banking and Currency Committee delves deeper and deeper into S.5, the interest disclosure bill, truth seems harder and harder to find. Nowhere is it pure and simple.

"Indeed, the bill's glib and appealing title may turn out to be more damning than blessing. It is not by any means unassailable.

"Quite the contrary, the all-goodness-and-gracious title is vulnerable--aside from the fact that the strained slogan has nothing to do with rate disclosure, which is what the bill is all about. It invited attack, and got it.

"... Would It not be more accurate as 'Lies in Lending' or 'Approximate Truth in Lending?'

The article noted that the Proxmire version of truth in lending backed what we now call the "A.P.R."--annual percentage rate. Earlier such legislation backed by former Senator Paul Douglas of Illinois (see Then & Now, September, p. 90) called for disclosure of simple interest rates, which encompassed fewer charges. Proxmire, Banking stated, represented "a determined but more compromising sponsor" than Douglas.

Among vocal opponents to the legislation was Sen. Wallace Bennett (R.-Utah), father of current Sen. Robert Bennett, a senior member of today's Senate Banking Committee. When he questioned witnesses from Massachusetts, then the only state with its own truth in lending law, he demonstrated his belief that the proposal would yield, at best, approximate truth in lending. …

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