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Banks ready to-do lists for Republicans

WASHINGTON — Big banks opposed much of the Democratic agenda these past two years in Congress, and they could find a lot to like in a Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Already, the GOP has a lengthy, bank-friendly to-do list.

The coming term should bring scores of oversight hearings into the implementation of new rules governing financial institutions. There will be scuffles over control of a new consumer financial protection agency. And lawmakers will debate how to restructure the quasi-governmental mortgage agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — which retain a major role in the current housing crisis.

All are issues that Bank of America, Wells Fargo and other large banking institutions will pay close attention to.

"We had been disappointed with a number of legislative outcomes with the past Congress, and so we look forward to better outcomes with this Congress," said Peter Garuccio, a spokesman for the American Bankers Association in Washington.

Garuccio said banks expect a corrections bill to peel back some of the financial regulations passed into law this year. Among them would be a repeal of the so-called Durbin Amendment, which cut debit card fees for retailers. Banks say it cost them billions.

"That's a huge issue," Garuccio said.

Consumer groups worry that Republicans on the Financial Services Committee will rebel against almost every issue that Democrats tackled in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, as the financial overhaul was called.

"We want to make sure that the industry that caused this mess doesn't derail this comprehensive, common-sense approach to making sure this doesn't happen again," said Kathleen Day, a spokeswoman for the Center for Responsible Lending, based in Durham, N.C. "The banking industry is out there already saying this is really bad."

Most of the direct legislative action affecting banks concluded this year with the Dodd-Frank Act, the broadest revamp of financial regulation since the Great Depression. Now, regulators are facing the challenge of implementing the complex legislation and working with increasingly complex and global financial markets.

Banks already have begun lobbying the administration.

Stage set for

tax cut fight

The White House and Republican lawmakers set the terms of a looming tax debate Sunday, coalescing around a possible temporary extension of existing income tax rates that would protect middle-class and wealthy Americans from sharp tax increases next year. Top White House adviser David Axelrod stressed that President Barack Obama opposes a "permanent" extension of current tax rates for individuals making more than $200,000 a year and married couples making more than $250,000. But Axelrod was carefully silent on the possibility of extending current tax rates for the short term.

Banks ready to-do lists for Republicans 11/14/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:21pm]
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