Column: Empower families over Wall Street

Dave Trott

Over the last seven years, the United States has experienced the weakest economic recovery in our nation’s history. While Wall Street and the federal government continue to thrive and expand, many Americans have not felt any real recovery and millions of people remain out of work.

Although some change has been made, wages have remained stagnant, life savings and nest eggs have declined, and the futures of Michigan families have been placed at risk. The nation’s economy and our financial system are less resilient, and one of the principal reasons for this instability is the fundamentally flawed and ill-conceived Dodd-Frank Act.

While it’s critical to ensure America does not face another financial crisis, Dodd-Frank was a knee-jerk reaction and has not lived up to the promises that it was sold on. Instead of more financial stability, this ill-framed legislation has resulted in big banks getting bigger and small banks shrinking. It has left big banks too big to fail and small banks too small to matter. Dodd-Frank has ripped away financial freedom, choice, and resources from millions of Americans—robbing them of access to affordable financial products and sticking them with more expensive credit cards and oppressive fees.

Dodd-Frank codified and guaranteed big bank bailouts on the backs of taxpayers, decimating the spirit of self-determination that defines the American dream. I recently heard from one of my constituents in Livonia who said that he will not soon forget that “the banks got bailed out, while the rest of us paid for our mistakes (and theirs),” and is “still angry that risky banking practices created financial and social hardship for [him] and [his] neighborhood.” This anger is well-founded as Dodd-Frank has failed our economy and undermined the financial future of so many American families and small businesses.

Furthermore, Dodd-Frank has led to an unprecedented expansion of the administrative state, where bureaucrats operate in the shadows with unrestricted powers and complete lack of transparency—arbitrarily crushing our small businesses and community financial institutions with onerous and ineffective regulations.

These flaws have spurred the House Committee on Financial Services to introduce the Financial CHOICE Act, a measured plan that will provide economic opportunity for all Americans, promote transparency, accountability, and offer significant regulatory reform. The CHOICE Act ends too-big-to-fail, ends bank bailouts, and imposes the toughest penalties in history for financial fraud, finally holding Wall Street accountable for its own risks and keeping those mistakes from being paid for on the backs of hardworking Americans.

The CHOICE Act provides individuals and families with the opportunity to choose the checking accounts, mortgages, retirement plans, and credit cards that work for them. It will also boost Michigan small businesses’ access to the resources they need to expand, innovate, invest, and hire more employees. If Washington wants to truly create a healthier economy, we must empower the American people, not government bureaucrats. We must grow our local economy, not Washington’s economy.

After seven years of sluggish and dismal economic growth, the CHOICE Act will help level the playing field for Michigan families, promote financial access and independence, and provide more opportunities for people to secure the American Dream.

Rep. Dave Trott represents Michigan’s 11th Congressional district and sits on the House Financial Services Committee.