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“Small Banks at Center of Overhaul Debate,” a headline in the Washington Post announced this morning. There are 8,000 community banks in the U.S. Not the big boys we’ve been reading about, but the local banks that we all know from the Chamber dinner and the softball league. And these small town bankers are worried that new financial regulations are going to make their lives miserable.
The small bankers are, so far, opposing the creation of what Congress is calling the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, a new regulator born of the financial crisis of the last year. The small bankers say they didn’t cause the financial meltdown. They aren’t involved with sales of credit cards and mortgages or any of the other financial wheeling and dealing the agency is to regulate. And they don’t want more regulation.
Proponents of the new regulation have been meeting with the small bankers, trying to get them on their side. The Wall Street banks are also trying to woo the community bankers, knowing that the locals have a lot more pull with members of Congress than they do. So far, the bankers are sticking together and the community banking organizations are lobbying against the new regulation. “We just don’t think we need another regulator. One size does not fit all in the regulatory scheme,” said Chris Williston, president of the Independent Bankers Association of Texas. “We’re really getting punished for the sins of a lot of our big bank brethren.”