Congressman Keith Rothfus

Representing the 12th District of Pennsylvania

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Tribune-Democrat: Financial CHOICE Act and the American dream

May 30, 2017
Column

Tribune-Democrat
by: Keith Rotfhus

When I talk to constituents in western Pennsylvania, I hear a common concern: some in this country are thriving and getting ahead, but many believe the American dream is moving further from their reach. Big businesses, the wealthy and well-connected are doing fine, while millions of hard-working Americans – mom-and-pop business owners and those on Main Street – face one barrier after another to their success.

Today, we have a two-speed economy, but all Americans deserve a chance at success, not just those in Washington, D.C., or those at the top.

A major cause of this two-speed economy is the failed Dodd-Frank financial control law that was imposed after the financial crisis. That bill, which spawned thousands of pages of new rules and regulations, promised an end to “Too Big to Fail” and a return to a healthy, stable economy.

Unfortunately, the outcome has been the exact opposite.

Over-regulated community banks are being merged into bigger banks, households have lost access to vital financial services, and capital for small businesses has dried up.

If anything, “Too Big to Fail” has been enshrined in law and small banks have been dubbed “Too Small to Succeed.”

House Republicans’ Financial CHOICE Act, however, will roll back Dodd-Frank’s misguided policies and replace them with new rules that will create more opportunity, choice and economic freedom for all Americans.

I support the Financial CHOICE Act because I know that it will revitalize our economy by creating the conditions for competitive, transparent and innovative capital markets. Yet, there are those – especially big banks – who oppose Financial CHOICE.

That is because the many reforms we propose are designed not to bolster the big banks, but to level the playing field for small financial institutions, some 1,600 of which have either closed or been forced to merge since the implementation of Dodd-Frank.

Financial CHOICE gives everyone a fair chance at the American dream.

Our bill accomplishes this by right-sizing regulations for community banks and incentivizing firms to adopt more conservative practices such as holding high levels of capital.

When institutions begin to flourish and thrive again, lower-income and middle-class consumers, as well as small businesses, that rely on the services of community banks will once again have more choices and better access to the products and services they need to live their daily lives and conduct their businesses.

The Financial CHOICE Act also holds bad actors accountable by increasing penalties for financial fraud. In fact, we are proposing the toughest penalties in history for financial fraud.

Our bill also promises to end “Too Big to Fail” – taxpayer-funded bailouts will be stopped once and for all.

One of the worst outcomes of Dodd-Frank was that it prompted unelected regulators to come up with thousands of pages of rules, many of which hurt consumer choice and stifled economic growth. The people’s elected representatives were largely removed from the process, giving unaccountable bureaucrats unchecked power to micromanage our financial system.

The Financial CHOICE Act fixes the rulemaking process by increasing transparency, enhancing the voice of Congress and ensuring that the rules that govern our economy are subject to cost-benefit analysis. At the very least, Washington should not support policies that hurt more than they help.

President Donald Trump spoke during his inaugural address of the “forgotten man and woman” in America.

Washington over-regulation, too, often does them real harm. The Financial CHOICE Act offers a better way – more accountability, more transparency, tougher penalties, and good regulation.

If the reforms in the Financial CHOICE Act become law, we can say goodbye to the two-speed economy and hello to financial choice and opportunity for all Americans.