Politics is about choices. Your commentary makes it seem as though I and other community bankers had an acceptable choice in Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate, or that I might now be having some second thoughts about supporting Donald Trump. Neither is correct.
You state that because candidate Clinton was strongly supported by Wall Street investment banks, she was somehow not a mortal threat to community banks. However, you proceed from a faulty premise that betrays a misunderstanding of the banking industry and the causes and effects of the 2008 financial crisis.
Community banks weren’t responsible for the financial crisis. In fact, they didn’t play any role in it. That responsibility lies with the Wall Street investment banks and the too-big-to-fail national banks that backed Hillary Clinton. And the financial crisis certainly wasn’t caused by under-regulation of community banks.
Yet the keystone regulatory response to the events of a decade ago – the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 – has had a disastrous impact on community banking, while enabling the major national banks to consolidate and grow. At the height of Dodd-Frank’s effect during the Obama administration, a community bank was shutting its doors every single day.
Researchers at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Business found that in the four years following the passage of Dodd-Frank, community banks’ share of U.S. banking assets shrank by more than 12 percent. Meanwhile, the top five bank-holding companies continued to control nearly the same share of U.S. banking assets as they did before the passage of Dodd-Frank.
The result was that as community banks were forced to close, Dodd-Frank drove further consolidation of the banking industry in favor of large, national banks.
“The rapid rate of consolidation away from community banks that has occurred since Dodd-Frank’s passage,” the authors of the study note, “is striking given that this regulatory overhaul was billed as an effort to end ‘too-big-to-fail.’”
President Hillary Clinton wouldn’t have reversed this disastrous policy for community banks for precisely the reason you mention: “all the money that she had famously taken from Wall Street.”
So, yes, I and my fellow community bankers faced an existential choice. We could allow Hillary Clinton to be elected and go out of business, or we could support Donald Trump and have a place at the table to influence policy – which we have successfully done.
You trivialize the successes of the Trump administration as tax cuts and regulatory reform. Yet the positive results for our country, ranging from 3 percent economic growth to unemployment at its lowest level in a half century, have a profound effect on the lives of millions of Americans.
Are there issues about which I disagree with President Trump? Of course, including the idea that a wall is the appropriate way to secure most of our southern border. But I am pleased to be in a position to be able to positively influence the administration on such policies.
Six months ago, the commentariat was certain that Trump was going to walk away from a free trade agreement in North America, questioning why someone like me had supported his candidacy, and postulating about the limits of that support. We ended up with a very positive, updated trade agreement, due in some part to the fact that people like me had a place at the policy table – something that wouldn’t have happened under a Clinton administration.
Ultimately, I am committed to protecting our free enterprise system, a system that has created an economy that has delivered more prosperity to more people than any in history. That is an issue that involves much more than just the bottom line of IBC Bank.