Onsite Coverage: Bachus Says Congress May Revisit Durbin, Reform Dodd-Frank
WASHINGTON – Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), chairman emeritus of the House Financial Services Committee, had good news for credit unions during his speech Tuesday morning at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference.
The powerful Republican drew applause from the crowd when he said the House “may revisit the Durbin Amendment,” because restrictions on debit card revenue have affected local institutions, not large financial institutions as intended.
He also said he thinks there will be bipartisan support to remove some parts of the Dodd-Frank Act that apply to small credit unions and banks
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Bachus also spoke extensively on the looming sequestration deadline of March 1, when automatic spending cuts will go into effect.
“No one thought we would be where we are,” Bachus said of Congress’ inability to resolve budget issues before the deadline.
“That’s one thing Democrats and Republicans agreed upon, that this won’t happen. We were told by our leadership this won’t happen. And the president never thought it would happen. We thought it would give us two months to come together and reduce the deficit by $1.4 to $2 trillion. But that’s not happening, and now we’re facing March 1.”
Bachus said cutting discretionary spending, particularly to the country’s infrastructure, was a big mistake. While it’s good news discretionary spending cuts have cut the annual deficit from $1.6 trillion in 2009 to an estimated $800 billion this year, he warned that the country will eventually have to make up postponed infrastructure improvements.
Instead, mandatory spending on entitlement programs, which are driving the country’s long-term debt, should be cut instead, the Alabama Republican sad.
He predicted that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will tell the House Financial Services committee during a hearing Wednesday that entitlement programs must be cut, and soon.
“The only way we’ve been able to exist and run with the deficits we have is because of the Federal Reserve,” he said. “They get a lot of blame, but they’ve held interest rates very low. That’s allowed us to finance our debt at a much lower cost. But I can tell you it would be an accounting and economic nightmare if interest rates kick up.”
In fact, because so many countries have followed the same monetary policy, Bachus warned that the U.S. could get caught up in currency wars as countries try to devalue their currency. That could lead to trade wars and inflation, he said.