I'm the CEO of an American bank. This is why I support Dodd-Frank.
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The lending and credit markets are on a hot streak. Credit card lending is higher than it’s been in six years, and just hit a record high of $996 billion at the end of last year. Auto loans peaked at over $1 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2016, up from just $634 million in the same quarter of 2010. Mortgage rates fell to 3.65 percent by the end of 2016, down from 4.69 percent in 2010.

The recession caused by 2008’s financial collapse tore apart these industries, left millions of Americans out of work, and obliterated any and all trust in the country’s largest financial institutions. We are finally seeing true recovery and growth again, under the watchful eye of careful regulatory oversight and in the wake of years of careful policymaking designed to encourage recovery while preventing the country from ever experiencing a crisis of that scale again.

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Yet even as we watch this progress continue, some federal lawmakers insist the regulations formed in the wake of the crisis are holding markets back – claims which fly in the face of reality. These lawmakers are demanding a rollback of the Dodd-Frank Reform Act, despite the protections it offers to both consumers and our national economy. The opponents of oversight and regulation insist the “red tape” of Dodd-Frank’s reforms are driving up mortgage and credit costs for consumers, even though the costs are consistently hitting record lows.

 

An American Banker piece published recently used the figures above to dispel these falsehoods about the lending industry, proving Dodd-Frank is not holding back opportunities for consumers. In reality, interest rates on mortgages are at a long-term low point, mortgages are being given more freely than at any point since the crisis, auto lending is already well above pre-recession levels, and auto loan rates are lower now than they were in 2010.

It’s difficult to argue with the point that scrapping Dodd-Frank would make it easier for banks to issue credit and loans. However, the protections offered under this law are the only thing standing between consumers and the predatory lending practices which fomented the greatest economic crisis in 70 years. Dodd-Frank helps prevent any small handful of banking institutions from holding the keys to the country’s economy. By limiting investment by banks and forcing accountability to federal regulators, we are preventing the rebirth of “too big to fail” institutions.

There is certainly a middle ground of regulation which can be reached. Dodd-Frank is not a perfect law. It’s unlikely even its Congressional supporters would call it one, given how heavily it was amended and changed before finally being enacted. However, its key provisions actively safeguard against the bad corporate behaviors which wreaked havoc on the wellbeing of banks and customers alike less than a decade ago.

Orchestrating a smear campaign against a law which  as its sole purpose and directive — protects customers from the predatory practices of profit-driven financial institutions is simply not how forward-thinking policy is made. Conversations about regulations of the financial sector should revolve around how to improve banks’ and lenders’ ability to satisfy the needs of their clients and customers — not just how to improve their ability to make as much money as they can, as quickly as they can.

If we are going to be serious about reforming financial regulations, it must be done with the best interests of working Americans first, and not the revenue targets of banks. Our responsibility is to protect the wealth and economic stability of our customers, not exploit their money to make more for ourselves. This responsibility is the foundation of Dodd-Frank, and a wholesale rollback of the law opens us up to the negligent practices which necessitated its passage in the first place.

Keith Mestrich is the president and CEO of Amalgamated Bank.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.