The consequences are apparently over-whelmingly negative for Bank of America after they announced a new $5 debit card monthly usage fee. In trying to login to their website, it was down, citing slower than usual operations. Whether this is because the Bank is trying to stop protesting customers from withdrawing their funds online … or whether it’s the work of angry hackers … the real question is:
Should Bank of America take all the blame for this highly unpopular, anti-consumer new fee?
The Heritage Foundation says “No”. That this is is simply another example of federal government regulations interfering with (as opposed to regulating) normal free-market activity.
It is a gross mis-understanding of our US Constitution for the federal government to believe it has the duty to intervene in commerce via the levy of unnecessary restrictions and costly regulations.
Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate commerce, so as to ensure that commerce among the states would take place under clear and predictable rules. According to Georgetown law professor Randy Barnett, our framers granted Congress the power to regulate domestic commerce in order “to make commerce regular.” Today, far too many public officials mistake the term “regulate” to mean “intervene”. And the results are predicatably bad for consumer freedom.
In the Bank of America debit card case, the Bank is imposing the new fee in anticipation of a $2 billion annual loss brought about by the “Durbin Amendment” — a provision of last year’s Dodd-Frank Wall Street financial reform bill. The measure was intended to protect America from another financial meltdown, but in reality it placed a boatload of new burdens on financial institutions and their customers. The results? Increased risks to the financial system, increased regulations, and in this case, increased costs to anyone who uses a debit card.
This fee would not likely have occured if Congress had not interevned where it does not belong.