Banks ask customers for a lot of things: checking fees, minimum deposits, ATM charges. But rarely do banks ask for depositors’ help. Friday morning, however, at least one major national bank emailed customers to ask for a solid: Helping it to stave off parts of the current financial reform bill that it finds unpalatable.
“As the leading provider of financial services to America’s military community, USAA supports financial services reform,” read the note from Josue “Joe” Robles, a retired Army major general who is president and CEO of USAA, a Texas-based bank that caters to veterans and their families and controls roughly $32 billion in deposits, making it one of the top 50 banks in the United States. “USAA is not like the banks and other companies that helped bring down our economy, and we never took a penny of TARP funds. We do not engage in the harmful practices this legislation seeks to resolve.”
Robles claimed that the bill would “prevent USAA from managing the association’s portfolio as we have for the past 87 years” and “jeopardize our ability to continue offering many of our competitive products.”
“So,” Robles continued, “we are asking all USAA members and employees to urge their U.S. senators to amend a portion of the bill, known as the ‘Volcker Rule,’ to eliminate its effect on a company like USAA.” That’s a reference to the part of the reform bill, named after former Federal Reserve chairman and current Obama administration adviser Paul Volcker, that aims to prevent banks from getting “too big to fail” and prohibits banks from “proprietary trading,” or making investments for its own profit.
Tell City Limits: Has your bank asked for your help to change or defeat the legislation? Let us know–comment below.
In New York City, the debate over the financial reform bill has revealed deep divisions over whether Wall Street’s importance to the city is good or bad. Reacting to President Obama’s Wall Street speech on Thursday, Mayor Bloomberg continued his defense of financiers.
“The financial services industry is made up of people who live and work in our neighborhoods and who shop on our main streets,” the mayor said. “So if regulation and higher taxes lead to fewer jobs on Wall Street, that will mean fewer jobs for middle class communities across the country.”
The mayor continued: “My concern is for the police officers and firefighters, teachers and sanitation workers, and everyone else who lives in our neighborhoods, shops on our main streets, and keeps our City strong. They get paid by the taxes that the financial industry generates.”
Of course, not everyone feels that Wall Street has been a net gain for the city, where some neighborhoods have been deliberate result of government policy–is as divisive as “the Street’s” current role.
This information was added after publication of the original article.