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The economic downturn in 2008 cost Michiganians their jobs, families their savings, and some even their homes. In response to this seismic event, Democrats in Congress passed and President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act into law. According to its supporters, Dodd-Frank was a panacea of regulatory solutions that would end “too big to fail” and prevent a future financial crisis.

In reality, Dodd-Frank has made it even more difficult for struggling families across Michigan to secure a future for themselves and for their children.

First, Dodd-Frank did not end the notion that certain banks are “too big to fail.” Instead, it enshrined it. Today, hardworking taxpayers continue to be on the hook for Wall Street’s poor business decisions thanks to Dodd-Frank’s bailout fund. Secondly, since Dodd-Frank was enacted, the largest banks are even bigger while the small banks are fewer. Community financial institutions that had nothing to do with the crisis are being strangled by overly burdensome regulations that were intended for massive banks. But we need our community and midsize regional financial institutions to be able to lend to consumers and small businesses so they can innovate, invest and create jobs.

To restore economic opportunity to hardworking families, I am working with my colleagues on the financial services committee to introduce the Financial CHOICE Act. This commonsense legislation will protect consumers by restoring accountability, ending taxpayer bailouts, and providing regulatory relief for community financial institutions.

At the center of this legislation is accountability. It requires strong capitalization standards for banks and imposes the toughest penalties in history to protect consumers from financial fraud. The Financial CHOICE Act also holds Washington bureaucrats accountable to the American people by placing the regulators themselves under Congressional Appropriations.

Since Dodd-Frank passed in 2010, big banks have gotten bigger and small banks have disappeared at an alarming rate. The Financial CHOICE Act protects taxpayers by eliminating “too big to fail” labels once and for all. Instead, we repeal this self-fulfilling prophecy and require failing institutions to liquidate through a streamlined bankruptcy without depending on taxpayer dollars.

Dodd-Frank created a one-size fits all regulatory structure that treats community banks the same as Wall Street Banks. Unlike some of the largest banks, community financial institutions across Michigan can’t afford to hire hundreds of lawyers and compliance officers to sort through Dodd-Frank’s red tape. These regulatory costs are passed on to consumers in the form of increased fees, fewer products and services, and more limited credit options. The Financial CHOICE Act eliminates this one-size-fits-all regulation by providing commonsense relief that allows community banks and credit unions to utilize their resources for lending and meeting the needs of their customers.

This bill will protect taxpayers and consumers from anti-growth Dodd-Frank regulations, and help hardworking Michiganians achieve financial independence.

Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Holland, represents Michigan’s 2nd Congressional district, and chairs the House Financial Services’ Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Securities & Investment.

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