Don’t Make Us Pay Redux; Banks Respond “Well then…you can’t use your money”

I threw up this post a little while back exposing one of the latest astroturfing/lobbying campaigns by the big banks and credit card corps. 

The attached video to that post is now the #1 link on google for the phrase “Don’t Make Us Pay”...if you discount the three top links that go directly to the astro-turfing campaign itself.

Thanks to those who have linked it, and commented, THANKS!   I hope it stays up there, the feedback has been quite positive.  One of the most greatest things about the internet is the power it gives individuals to enhance their voice.  I don’t have millions of dollars in misbegotten profits to use to get my message out, but that doesn’t mean I can’t bend billions of dollars in telecom and IT infrastructure, ever so slightly, to my will. 

Now, despite their billion-dollar funding advantage, we’re on pretty much the same level when it comes to Internet searches.  (Bing doesn’t like Youtube as much as Google, natch, but it does still link back to my post in the top 5).

So now that the rhetoric has been s0mewhat neutralized, and we know who “Us” is in the phrase “Don’t Make *Us* pay”, we get into the real action, and the threats ensue…

“Many members in [Congress] are being lobbied right now by banks and card companies to repeal this law, to undo the interchange reform that Congress passed last year. It is one of the most active lobbying efforts I’ve ever seen,” said Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin, who was speaking on the Senate floor late Thursday. “Normally the card companies and the big banks are used to getting their way in this town.”

And there’s the standoff.

Banks are already breaking out the threats to consumers. On Thursday, CNNMoney learned that JPMorgan Chase is considering denying all debit card purchases greater than $50 or $100 — regardless of whether you select “credit” or “debit” at the register.

“The debit card that we know and love today will never be the same again if this rule goes into effect,” said Trish Wexler, a spokeswoman for the Electronic Payments Coalition, which represents Visa, MasterCard, credit unions and banks. “Some people will have to pay more per transaction, some people won’t be able to make certain purchases, and customers are going to have a choice — do I switch to credit, go to a prepaid card and pay for extra fees, or go to a nontraditional bank if I don’t have a credit card?”

[full story]

The article includes some general quotes from both “sides” of the argument.   On the one side is everyone who is making billions off the current setup, on the other side is everyone who is paying billions because of the current setup.   The line on this one is easy to draw.

The timeline on this one is also very short, so now would be a good time to call your Congressperson, tell them where you stand on this issue AND point out to them the b.s. lobbying effort and your opposition to that as well.   We’ve got six weeks.

“This is a huge step in curtailing out of control fees,” said Rachel Wolf, a spokeswoman for the Merchant Payments Coalition. “Because retail is such a competitive industry, any savings retailers get they are going to pass along to customers, because if you don’t offer competitive prices, someone’s just going to go across the street to the competitor.”

The new rules are expected to become official in just six weeks and then go into effect in July. As a result, the battle is getting pitched and banks are spending huge sums lobbying against what is known as the Durbin Amendment to the Wall Street reform act passed by Congress last year.

The act required the Federal Reserve to regulate the interchange fees on debit cards in order to keep retailers and consumers from paying more than their fair share for the banks’ services.

If, over the last few years, you’ve been following what’s been going in the U.S. and the world, you know that one group has largely been spared from the recession, and indeed, seems to have prospered mightily from it.   What the financial reform legislation provided was a means to recoup some of that imbalance and re-level the playing field.

Big banks don’t want that, but I hope you do.  And I hope you do want it enough to contact your Congresscritter and make your views known.

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