90 Miles From Tyranny : Democrats Pledge To Fight Trump Rule Ensuring Banks Won’t Refuse Service To Conservatives

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Democrats Pledge To Fight Trump Rule Ensuring Banks Won’t Refuse Service To Conservatives

Banks have a duty to provide proportionate access to financial services, even for clients involved in legal but politically controversial industries.

In its final days, the Trump administration is seeking to disrupt the way progressive activists increasingly impose their will on big business: through banks controlling the loan lifelines to the economy.

A regulation just finalized (update) aims to prevent lenders from blackballing businesses in industries opposed by the left by requiring banks to demonstrate that their loan decisions are “based on quantitative, impartial risk-based standards,” rather than political or reputational concerns.

The proposed Fair Access to Financial Services Rule (FAFSR) is a response to successful pressure campaigns waged by environmental groups and congressional Democrats, which culminated in every major American bank refusing to finance drilling projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), despite such drilling being authorized by President Trump in 2017.

Bryan Hubbard, a spokesman for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, told RealClearInvestigations that the rule codifies longstanding OCC guidance on banks’s obligation to provide equitable access to their services, and will ensure that banks are not “terminating entire categories of customers.”

The rule has been published in the Federal Register, but it may be short-lived with the end of Trump’s term. Many Democrats oppose the measure and they will have 60 legislative days to disapprove the rule by a simple majority vote, as provided under the Congressional Review Act.

Nevertheless, the Arctic drilling conflict highlights the power of progressive groups to intimidate, cajole, and partner with corporate powerhouses to advance their agenda – often beyond the confines of the legislature. Through boycotts and other pressure campaigns, progressives have sought to push corporations to adopt their social and cultural values on issues ranging from climate-change policy to gun control.

The Debate Over Arctic Drilling Continues

Firearms dealers, oil producers, payday lenders, and workers in other controversial industries have had their access to capital stunted by these campaigns, which are often aimed at the circulatory system of the economy – the banking industry. Oil companies spent decades working through traditional Washington channels – engaging in full-press lobbying, writing white papers, and, of course, offering generous campaign contributions to sympathetic legislators – to obtain permission to drill in ANWR.

The debate over drilling in the refuge, the nation’s largest wildlife reserve, has raged since portions of the 19-million-acre area were first set aside under President Dwight Eisenhower in 1960. Twenty years later, President Jimmy Carter signed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which expanded the size of the reserve but opened up a coastal plain (the so-called “1002 Area”) to oil exploration, subject to prior congressional approval.

That authorization has proven elusive, as preserving ANWR became a cause célèbre among environmentalists. In December 2017, however, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which included a provision written by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski authorizing oil exploration in the 1002 Area. The language opened a relatively small portion of the reserve – 2,000 of the area’s 1.57 million acres – to surface development.

The Republican lawmaker speculated that the project could generate “$60 billion in royalties for [Alaska] alone.” As the required environmental review process moved forward, opponents took action.

Applying Pressure on Banks

In January 2020, a group of Senate Democrats sent a letter to all of the major American banks, requesting that they “stop financing … oil and gas drilling and exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge” in order to better “prepar[e] the U.S. economy to weather the growing impacts of the climate crisis.” The letter echoed themes found in later pressure campaigns waged by such environmental advocacy groups as the Sierra Club and Greater Good.

The banks fell quickly in line. In February, Wells Fargo announced that it would not...

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1 comment:

  1. Yeah, right. Your employer can't fire you for being old, but can wait for you to slip up somehow, and use THAT to fire you fore being too old...

    Viva the black market!


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