To wide dismay, Bank of America recently announced a new $5 monthly fee on customers who use its debit card for purchases. The bank’s decision is just one of the many issues feeding the fury behind the burgeoning 99 percent movement. It is also the new attack weapon in Florida’s GOP Senate candidate Adam Hasner’s campaign.
The former state House Majority Leader is taking on former Sen. George LeMieux (R) for the chance to run against incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). To take down his rival, Hasner is pointing to the bank’s fee increase as reason enough to dismiss LeMieux. “If Floridians are wondering why they will soon be paying more to use their debit cards, the need to look no further than Senator George LeMieux,” he said.
Why? Because LeMieux supported a reform in the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law that limited how much banks can charge retailers each time a customer swipes their debit card. By Hasner’s logic, this so-called “Durbin Tax” actually “forced” the beleaguered Bank of America to create new fees to stay afloat in the sea of regulations:
In the email, Hasner says that banks were “forced to charge customers new fees due to the negative and costly requirements associated with the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law, in particular the ‘Durbin Tax.’” Dodd-Frank legislation was a response to the country’s financial crisis that many economists say was partially caused by lax regulations on financial institutions. [...]
Hasner’s email says, “At a time when Florida families can afford it the least, they will now be charged an extra $5 a month just to use their debit cards. That’s 60 hard earned dollars a year. And guess who voted for the ‘Durbin Tax’ …that’s right, Senator George LeMieux.”
Hasner’s outrage over the bank’s practice would be more persuasive if he went after the right offender. Durbin’s reform is intended to help small retailers that are forced to pay excessive fees every time a consumer shops at their store. Bank of America could easily choose not to overburden their customers with an unnecessary fee. But, as Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said himself, the main reason behind the fee is to simply make money. “I have an inherent duty as a CEO of a publicly owned company to get a return for my shareholders,” he said in defense. “Understand we have a right to make a profit.”
And profit they do. As TP Economy editor Pat Garofalo notes, banks are making nearly one-third of the total corporate profits. Bank of America is still making money, but is “under pressure to show how it will weather problems remaining with its home mortgage assets.” And evidently slamming consumers for using a debit card is its answer.