Senator Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) authored an amendment to the sweeping Frank Dodd financial overhaul that limits debit-card fees; the Fed is required to write the rules. Comments are due at the Fed next week. That comment period is generating a lot of interest on the part of U.S. regulators, lawmakers and those of us in the free market think tank world.
The foolish arrogance of price controls was not pretty when President Nixon tried them and the Durbin Amendment is just as ugly. No matter how the Fed decides to cap “swipe fees,” a market that was functioning will be distorted.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Fed Chairman Bernanke and FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair have raised serious doubts about the idea—and even Rep. Barney Frank has been signaling that this one is up for negotiation. As with ObamaCare, we will cheer on a second—and much more careful— look at this sweeping legislation.