The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is pushing a bill just introduced that essentially serves as a reminder to Bank of America customers that they should move their money to a local community bank.
The legislation, from Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC), is a direct reaction to Bank of America’s announcement that they would charge a $60 annual fee for use of their debit card in retail purchases. The annual fee, which could raise as much as $2 billion for BofA, has met with an immediately negative reaction from customers and investors.
Miller and Durbin’s bill would make it easier for bank customers to close their accounts. It would also seamlessly swap direct deposit and electronic bill pay accounts, freeing the customer from having to make multiple separate actions when they change their bank account. It also prohibits any fees or charges for account closure. It takes the hassle out of the process.
PCCC’s email seeks additional co-sponsors for the legislation. But the legislation is mainly a signpost for the idea that Americans still have a choice with their banking. That choice is dwindling as banks consoldiate to an amazing degree. But there still are community banks and credit unions in almost every city, eager for the opportunity to work with customers without trying to gouge them at every turn. And while legislation to make the process of changing banks hassle-free would be very nice, just highlighting the whole idea has value. It adds the notion of competition into a market where banks want none.
While Bank of America’s new fee has been seized upon by opponents of financial reform as a logical consequence of Dodd-Frank’s swipe fee reform, it neglects the fact that banks still make money on swipe fees. They can charge 24 cents per transaction, and it only costs them 7-10 cents to make the electrons move. That’s down from 44 cents, but there’s a right to exorbitant profit being asserted that I don’t recall from my pocket Constitution.
President Obama addressed the BofA debit card fee the other day by saying that it shows the need for the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. In fact, it’s possible that CFPB could enact rules similar to Durbin and Miller’s legislation or even ban the $60 annual fee. Today, the nominee to run that agency, Richard Cordray, gets a confirmation vote in the Senate Banking Committee. He’s expected to clear the committee, albeit without Republican support.
Here’s PCCC’s whole letter on the Miller/Durbin legislation:
Last week, Bank of America announced they will charge a new $60-per-year fee to use debit cards on basic things like groceries. It will pad their profits by an estimated $2 billion.
In reaction, a TV host cut up her Bank of America card on the air.
Now, progressive Congressman Brad Miller — from Bank of America’s home state of North Carolina — is going on offense against Bank of America with legislation that would make it much easier for customers to switch banks.
To gain momentum, Miller needs other members of Congress to pile on this week.
Can you sign our petition urging others to support Brad Miller’s “move your money” bill? Click here.
When the new debit card fee was announced, Sen. Dick Durbin said, “Bank of America customers, vote with your feet, get the heck out of that bank.”
A right-wing blogger wrote, “I actually agree with Durbin to a point.” One person shared, “After 30 years of banking with Bank of America, today I walked into a local branch and asked to speak to the branch manager and closed every account.”
But here’s the catch — Bank of America intentionally puts up obstacles to customers leaving.
In many states, walking into a bank branch isn’t even enough! Miller’s bill would change that — allowing people to close accounts by phone or Internet, and have things like direct deposit transfer automatically.
Urge Congress to hold Bank of America accountable now. Sign here.
Across America, a simmering rage is coming to a boil against Wall Street greed.
The Occupy Wall Street movement has channeled this anger. Today, we’re focusing it into a deep corporate accountability campaign against one of Wall Street’s worst actors.
Rep. Miller’s bill is just the first step. Later, we’ll organize at local branches across the country and target Bank of America with hard-hitting ads.
But first, please sign our petition urging others to support Brad Miller’s “move your money” bill today. Click here.
We’ll deliver this petition to Congress, and work with Rep. Miller to move his legislation forward. Thanks for being a bold progressive.