By Christopher Maag
Criticism of Bank of America’s $5 monthly fee for debit card purchases reached all the way to the White House this week, when President Obama himself blasted the bank for charging the new fee. And he suggested that the newly-established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has the power to prevent the bank from charging such fees.
“Well you can stop it,” Obama said in an interview with ABC News host and former Clinton administration official George Stephanopoulos. “This is exactly why we need this consumer financial protection bureau that we set up that is ready to go.”
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The president has nominated Richard Corday, formerly Ohio’s attorney general, to become the bureau’s first director. That nomination may move forward on Thursday, as the Democrats who control the Senate Banking Committee plan to vote for his confirmation. Cordray faces a more difficult fight in the full Senate, where Republicans have announced they will oppose any nominee until the president agrees to limit the new bureau’s power.
Before that long process is eventually resolved, the president expressed hope that other banks will not follow Bank of America’s lead.
“My hope is that you’re going to see a bunch of the banks say, ‘You know what, this is not good business practice,'” he said. “Rather than taking a little bit less of a profit, rather than paying multi million dollar bonuses, let’s treat our customers right.”
Bank of America plans to start charging the $5 fee in early 2012.