In the late 1970's, Congress enacted the Community Reinvestment Act to force banks to serve the "convenience and needs" of the community. This law has succeeded in extorting money from banks and redistributing money to special interests. However, such a law has also put increased pressure on banks to make a profit.
Now, twenty years later, banks are being reprimanded for providing too much convenience and too much credit to consumers. Although technological innovations have increased the living standards of all Americans, banks are being criticized for using technology to serve customers in airports and grocery stores, at noon and at midnight.
In a free market society, price determines the level of output. If we are witnessing an increase in the supply of ATM machines and transactions, as well as an increase in prices, it is clear to me that the market demand for these services has also increased. I am convinced the market provides a much better allocation of resources, and much better service, than a system of price controls.
While I am not here to defend the pricing policies of banks, I am here to defend free enterprise and the intelligence of the American consumer. I do not believe I can make a better choice for a consumer than he can make for himself. Consumers know what is in their best self-interest. If consumers continue to use ATM machines with and without fees, they must believe they are benefitting from the service.
Mr. Chairman, I look forward to the testimony of the witnesses.
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