Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Republicans Heart Bank Fees

Imagine, if you will, that Obama imposed a $35 tax on anyone who spent more than they had in their bank account. And every item added to your negative balance would be another $35 you had to pay to the government. And the government would be required to use that money for consumer economic education programs, which taught people how to be more savvy consumers.

Republicans would go apeshit. Hell, *I'd* go apeshit. The very idea is offensive to me. And yet, why is it that conservatives are so eager to support such a system, as long as it's the bank that keeps the money? Hell, they defend it. They think anyone who overdrafts is a lousy lowlife scum who deserves to pay $35 every time you deeper into the red. And they'll attack anyone who prevents banks from taking this money from me.

And I know that because I recently made a boneheaded move and overdrafted. I wrote a big check thinking it wouldn't clear until Tuesday, but it secretly cleared on Monday. And had I known it would clear on Monday, I could definintely have fixed the problem immediately. But for whatever reason, my bank doesn't let me know that checks clear until the day after it happens, after it's too late to fix the problem.

And that wouldn't have been a big deal, but over the weekend, I used my debit card a lot. And because weekends are magical "bank free" days, their computers wouldn't finish processing my transactions until Tuesday morning. And in total, I had nine things push me deeper in the red.

Obama Saved Me Money

Under the old system, I would have been charged with $315 in fees. But thanks to Obama's banking reform last year, I only had to pay $35 for the check that hit on Monday, and didn't pay a thing for the lesser charges I made on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. In total, Obama saved me $280. Now maybe to Republicans, that's a nothing figure. But I was damn happy to save it. I'm trying to save up for a couch right now, and that's part of my payment.

And the oddest thing is that when I've tried to explain this to a few Republicans I know, they sarcastically deride it as "Big Brother" saving us, as if I'm some stupid schmo because I needed Obama's help. Sure, they'd scream bloody murder if Obama had the banks collect that fee for tax purposes. But if it's a bank that gets to keep the money, they think it's immoral for Obama to stop it. They think it's wrong for me to use the government to protect me from Big Business. What's wrong with these people?

And really, that's what this election is all about. It's not about whether Obama gave you what you thought we needed. It's about his efforts to protect little guys like me, saving us $280 we'd rather spend elsewhere. I even made a point of contributing 10% of that to Democrats, as a sort of finders fee. (Not that that's the only money I've given this year.) Yes, Universal Healthcare would have been nice, but little regulations are good, too.

That's why we all need to vote this year. To show the world that us little people support Obama.

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