Weekly Column

In 1983, I moved to Wadsworth to start a family and to provide for them in the best way possible. The financial environment was excellent for people who wanted a taste of the American Dream and their chance at starting and growing their own business.

It was here that I received my first loan from a community bank. This bank believed in me and gave me my first loan. It helped launch a successful business career of 30 years consisting of over 60 entities that ultimately employed over 3,000 people.

However, today’s overly regulated bank environment is hindering this flow of prosperity. I have three children who are roughly the same age as I was when I moved to Ohio. If they asked me today to risk the safety of their current 9-5 jobs to start a business, I would hesitate about sending them on the same path I took 34 years ago.

Few can forget the 2008 financial crisis that sent the American economy into a downward spiral. The Democrats in office reacted with Dodd-Frank, the regulatory chokehold that has since caused the U.S. to lose, on average, one community bank or credit union a day. This statutory monster, composed of over 2,000 pages of law, was promoted under the guise of ending “too big to fail.” Instead, it has done the exact opposite. By cutting the number of banks who offer free checking in half, and sending monthly banking and checking fees through the roof, Dodd-Frank has simply strengthened the “too big,” passing down higher costs to the consumer and making it infinitely more difficult for small businesses and families to get their chance at the American Dream.

Dodd-Frank is exclusionary in nature. As the Community Bankers Association of Ohio told me, “Dodd-Frank wasn’t intended to include community banks, but our industry, our customers, and communities continue to suffer the cost and burden of complying with its numerous provisions that redirect enormous resources away from improving our local economies.”

In light of these regulations, reform becomes necessary. This is why the House passed the Financial CHOICE Act last week. This bill will limit the lending burden and excessive regulations for small community banks, in effect allowing more American access to credit, and providing real accountability for Wall Street. This bill is a step in the direction towards bipartisan agreement as it includes numerous bipartisan bills that will help fuel America’s entrepreneurial spirit, such as the Supporting America’s Innovators Act and the Helping Angels Lead Our Startups Act.

This legislation will once and for all shift the power from the hands of the financial institutions “too big to fail” to the hands of the hardworking community banks and businesses that are the backbone of our nation. The Financial CHOICE Act will hold these large firms accountable for irresponsible behavior and ensure that taxpayers will not feel the burden of their financial miscalculations. For those skeptical of this process of de-regulation, it is critical to note that this act allows the SEC full discretion to penalize actions of fraud or disregard for a regulatory requirement through sanctions equivalent to investor losses.

The hard truth is that Dodd-Frank was contributing to the growth of big banks, not American opportunity. We need to let Americans invest in themselves with the proper access to credit and capital. Without the help of that Wadsworth community bank in 1983, I would not be where I am today. Now, with the passage of the Financial CHOICE Act, we are once again on the path to giving our children the same opportunity we were once given to live the American Dream.

The Renacci Report

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