Last year, Congress intervened in an old-fashioned business dispute. Today, it may take a step back, and let the competition of business run its course. If we’re lucky.

Whenever you use a debit card to make a purchase, your bank pays a small fee to the store. Merchants, including Illinois-based Walgreens, don’t like that, so they got Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to limit the fees they pay. In other words, they got the feds to impose a price control.

Today the Senate will vote on a proposal to delay the implementation of the price control, known as the Durbin Amendment, by a year. That’s a good start, though we’d like to see it done away with altogether.

I got wind of this issue because TCF filed suit against the law, and they’ve got some good points. But whether I think banks have the better argument should be irrelevant–as should what Sen. Durbin thinks. What we have here is a standard business dispute over pricing, and government has, to borrow a boxing metaphor, decided to throw the fight.

For more, see here.


The proposal to delay the Durbin Amendment, offered by Sen. Jon Testa (D-Mont.) failed. It got 54 votes but needed 60. Minnesota’s two senators voted no, meaning they supported price controls.