In a rare moment of bi-partisanship last year, the Congress enacted reform of the fees banks charge or threaten to charge, on debit card transactions.  The law would limit the price-fixing engaged in by the nation’s largest banks so they would be required to compete on their debit card swipe fees or charge an amount that is “reasonable and proportional” to their costs.

The average consumer doesn’t experience these fees when they check out at their local store, but what they don’t realize is that a portion of these fees are factored into the price of products they purchase.  This money isn’t buying them anything, they’re only sharing the pain with the business.  The money goes into the pockets of those same banks on Wall Street that got buckets of taxpayer money to bail them out of their bad loan decisions.

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators is drafting legislation to delay debit-card “swipe” fee rules that banks say would cost them billions of dollars, according to two Senate aides.  Of course it would cost them billions; billions they would have otherwise sucked out of the pockets of small businesses.

Democrat Senators Jon Tester of Montana and Tom Carper of Delaware, are formulating a bill to delay one of the few positive things to come out of the last Congress.

The Federal Reserve suggested limiting debit-card fees charged to merchants to 12 cents per transaction to correspond with the processing costs. Some banks are currently charging merchants as much as 40 cents per transaction for interchange fees, a more than 300% profit.  The bill to delay the measure may come as early as this week and would hurt small business while filling the pockets of the likes of Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase & Co., by as much as $12 billion dollars annually.

Sadly, even Tennessee Republican Tom Corker may be participating in this bait-and-switch.  “There’s no question legislation is being looked at,” Corker said in an interview. “The question we’re dealing with now is, what’s the best way of approaching this issue?”  Why are we even thinking of providing more aid to the banks that got us into this mess while punishing small businesses and consumers?  How many jobs won’t be created because small businesses will continue sharing their sales with the big Wall Street banks?

Even Fed Chairman Bernanke and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair are opposed to this move.  At a time when small businesses are being assailed from nearly every direction; when these same big banks aren’t lending the funds needed for businesses to grow; why would we even consider padding their balance sheets?  The answer?  Lobbyists.  The big banks can afford to spend millions of dollars on lobbying efforts and with 2012 and lots of Senators looking at their re-election costs, you can read the tea leaves.  It’s corruption, plain and simple.

Remember the names of those Senators that put their names on this attempt to pull the rug out from small businesses.  Regardless of whether a “D” or an “R” follows their name, I suggest you find someone else to vote for.  Small businesses need our support and more importantly, if we’re to get out of this economic mess we need them to flourish.  This is basically a stab in the back of the Mom and Pop businesses of America.

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