In just a 12-hour period on Monday, March 1, at least four proposals for where to house the consumer-protection function of the larger financial-reform bill were floated on Capitol Hill. E-mails were flying back and forth, and the most robust industry in Washington—the rumor mill—was in full gear. The second largest industry in Washington—the selective leak—was also fully engaged. What this all adds up to is reminiscent of the classic Abbot and Costello skit “Who’s on First?” As you will recall, Who is on first; What is on second; and I Don’t Know is on third.
Third base is very much the center of attention because as things stand this Tuesday morning “I Don’t Know” is firmly in control of the game. How the Consumer Financial Protection Agency plays out will be one of the most fascinating games to watch in years. Powerful senators are on at least five sides of a three-sided question. If this weren’t so critically important to the future health of community bank franchises, it would be time to break out the hotdogs and beer and watch it all unfold.
However, this is no time to be a spectator. This is a franchise issue, and ICBA is working feverishly to ensure that community banks are not put at a disadvantage regardless of how the ball game ends. Our goal is to minimize the consumer-regulatory burden on community banks in whatever way we can. We will be swinging hard to achieve that goal and will not rest until the final out.