Note to Congress: You Are Not the People You Serve

From a Washington Post article on proposed legislation to regulate overdraft fees:

“Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) said he avoided overdraft fees with a credit line and asked if many of the problems could be eased with consumer education.”

Good on you, Spencer. You have a credit line — which many of your constituents can’t get — and you have it linked to your checking account — which many of your constituents wouldn’t even know how to ask for.

Nessa Feddis of the ever-helpful American Bankers Association added that “most consumers can easily avoid the fees by keeping track of their balances.” (That’s a quote from the Post article describing her testimony, not from her testimony itself.) Hear that everyone? Keep track of your balances, and just in case, get a credit line and link it to your checking account. Problem solved.

The people who are financially sophisticated already know how to track their balances and turn off overdraft protection if they don’t want it. They are not the people that financial regulation is supposed to serve. You can’t discharge your duty as a representative of the people just by wishing that the people were more like you.

About James Kwak 133 Articles

James Kwak is a former McKinsey consultant, a co-founder of Guidewire Software, and currently a student at the Yale Law School. He is a co-founder of The Baseline Scenario.

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