Paul Ryan Responds to Banking Scandal by Accusing Dodd-Frank of Killing Free Checking

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Paul Ryan, head of the do-nothing House of Representatives, master of posturing, of talking but not doing, writes in an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, that Americans would rather have free checking than be free protected against fraud committed by their banks.

Ryan criticized the Dodd-Frank Act, which, as we have just seen, ensured Wells Fargo was fined for defrauding its customers:

We’ve also seen consolidation in the banking industry. Since Dodd-Frank became law, our country has lost on average one community financial institution per day. There are now fewer than 6,500 banks in total, the lowest level since the Great Depression.

Actually, Republicans overstate the number of banks closed as a result of Dodd-Frank, with American Banker reporting that “the entire U.S., the total number of banks has fallen 18% since June 30, 2010.” The Washington Post reports a dataset “published by the Mercatus Center” that “a 14 percent decline in community banks.”

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And Ryan is wrong in more than respect to simple numbers. As American Banker explains, the Dodd-Frank Act “Causing the demise of community banks” is a “narrative [that] confuses correlation with causation.”

That’s right. Paul Ryan is wrong. And he’s not through being wrong. Not by a long shot.

What is Ryan worried about amid all this flurry of flawed thinking and bogus statistics? Defrauded customers? No, he says Americans don’t care about being defrauded! What they really want is free checking:

And Dodd-Frank’s regulations have not helped the American people. Before Dodd-Frank, 75 percent of banks offered free checking. Two years after it passed, only 39 percent did. A study by Javelin Strategy and Research suggests that Dodd-Frank regulations fueled a 21 percent surge in checking fees between 2006-12.

In fact, Ryan’s statistics are again bogus; most Americans still have free checking accounts. Ryan claims 39 percent for 2012 but the American Bankers Association (ABA) said in 2013 that 55 percent of Americans still had free checking accounts, and the actual number according to the same body was not 75 percent in 2010, the year Dodd-Frank took effect, but 53 percent.

In fact, Ryan is right about one thing: being protected by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is “all part of the progressive vision.” Ryan complains that federal oversight is not necessary, when, in fact, the Wells Fargo scandal very persuasively demonstrates the need for regulation of the banking industry.

Ryan, of course, does not mention Wells Fargo’s fraud. He does not mention the $185 million fine levied against them by the CFPB. He’s just worried about free checking most people still have.

This is all part of Ryan’s oft-repeated claim that “The real Obama legacy is one of sprawling liberalism, divisive identity politics, bigger government, and America ceding leadership in the world.”

In fact, Ryan is doing his level best to ensure Americans are fooled – by Republican talking points, when in fact, Republicans love big government when it’s regulating behavior or beliefs they don’t approve of.

Ryan claims Obama “wanted to consolidate the federal government’s control over key aspects of our lives” even while promoting a government that watches like a big brother over women’s reproductive rights; over who can and cannot get married; or have abortions; or, if you’re not Christian, practice their own religious beliefs without government interference.

Ryan complains that “President Obama has given government the starring role and pushed the people into the wings,” but the real problem for Ryan and the Republican Party is that that same government is protecting the American people from the rapacious activities of the GOP’s corporate sponsors.