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LETTER: Congress should stand with Main Street, not Wall Street

By Staff | May 12, 2017

Over the course of the last decade, ND retailers have faced a growing number of government regulations and mandates. All of these regulations are cutting into a business’s bottom line, making it harder for retail outlets to hire new employees and grow.

President Donald Trump’s prioritizing of the unraveling of unnecessary and burdensome regulations is welcome news. Trump swept into office with a clear mandate from the American people -to grow American jobs and to put in place conditions to help unleash economic prosperity across this nation.

However, there’s legislation pending in that would detrimentally affect North Dakotan and American small businesses. The U.S. House Financial Services Committee has advanced the Financial CHOICE Act, a bill that would end and replace many components of Dodd-Frank, a financial reform bill aimed at big banks.

As currently written, the CHOICE Act would undo reform of debit card swipe fees, allowing the banks, and behemoths like Visa and MasterCard, to go back to the days when they were free to charge virtually any fee they wanted on every debit card transaction. Prior to the Durbin Amendment in Dodd-Frank, debit card swipe fees were completely unregulated. As banks imposed steep transaction fees, retailers like the local hardware store and your corner gas station were forced to pay a fee every time you chose to swipe your card. Visa and MasterCard were routinely making 45 cents on every debit card transaction. While retailers disagree with Dodd-Frank as a whole, the Durbin Amendment currently limits what banks can charge in transaction fees.

The Durbin Amendment has paid big dividends. In fact, in the first year alone after debit card swipe fee reform was passed, consumers saw $5.8 billion in savings. In the last five years, The American consumer has saved 30 BILLION DOLLARS! The Durbin Amendment is playing a crucial role in keeping costs down and allowing retailers to invest more in employees and growing their businesses. If the CHOICE Act passes, as is, the cost of accepting debit cards is going to dramatically increase for businesses large and small.

I urge you to contact your congressional delegation. Tell them to VOTE “NO” on the Financial Choice Act if language repealing the Durbin Amendment is included. Congress must keep debit card swipe fee reform in place for the good of not only the American small business owner, but also you, the consumer.

The North Dakota Retail Association (NDRA) is comprised of large and small retail businesses across the state. The association’s mission is to promote and enhance retail business, improve the business climate in the state, provide training and education to members, and monitor legislative and regulatory activity on the state and national level.

– Submitted via the ND Newspaper Association

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