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The Food Marketing Institute (FMI), National Grocers Association (NGA) and National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) have all come out in opposition to what is being called the "CHOICE Act" that has been brought up for consideration by Congressman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), who is chairman of the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee.

FMI yesterday said that the legislation would actually eliminate choice for businesses and repeal debit card reforms that it said "have fostered  competition in the marketplace for the past five years."

Those reforms were included in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which "required debit networks to actually compete for both bank and merchant routing business, breaking up monopolies" and "finally brought stability, transparency and even competition into the debit routing market.  Repealing the successful debit reforms would remove competition and increase merchants’ operating costs; with a 1.5% industry profit margin, any increases will have a direct impact on prices for consumers. The largest card networks should compete with each other and regional players to bring the best value and efficiency to customers, just like Main Street retailers do every day."

Greg Ferrara , NGA's senior VP of Government Relations and Public Affairs, released this statement: “Since its passage six years ago, the Durbin Amendment has brought competition and transparency into a payment system that has historically been void of it. Repealing these reforms would have negative impacts on the independent supermarket industry and the consumers it serves. We need to ensure more competition within the debit market – not remove it.

“NGA is disappointed to see members of the House Financial Services Committee side with Wall Street banks over Main Street grocers and merchants.  Repeal of these important reforms is simply another gift to the nation’s biggest banks and card networks.  NGA and our members are committed to defeating this legislation so long as it continues to include repeal of the Durbin reforms.”

And Lyle Beckwith, NACS' senior vice president of government relations, said, “NACS is deeply disappointed at the House Financial Services Committee’s vote to report the controversial and misnamed ‘Financial Choice Act’—which includes repeal of the highly effective, pro-competition and pro-consumer debit swipe fee reform—but given the bipartisan opposition that arose even as the bill was rammed through committee, repeal efforts should not move forward."

Jennifer Hatcher, FMI's chief public policy officer & senior vice president, government relations, added: "H.R. 5983 would be more appropriately named the ‘No-Choice’ act as it eliminates competition in the debit routing market and essentially ensures a return to a monopoly for one player."
KC's View:
I was curious, so I just did a quick online check, and found that Hensarling gets political contributions from the financial services industry ... which tells you everything you need to know about the political process and the clout exercised by banks. This doesn't make him unique, by the way - every politician gets money from special interests, and those interests make sure they spend money on the lawmakers who regulate their businesses.

Best government money can buy.

How about legislation that prevents lawmakers from taking any money from any organization, company or person over which they have any sort of oversight or regulatory responsibility?