Sen. Mike Crapo convened a handful of small business owners at a carpet store on Boise’s Main Street on May 14 to rail against the financial reform bill being debated in the U.S. Senate.
Crapo focused his opposition on a new consumer protection agency that he fears would interfere with the kind of financing and payment plans that small businesses offer their customers. He said the agency, which may be housed at the Federal Reserve, would have broad, undefined powers with little congressional oversight.
“The bill is yet once again an effort to reach far beyond the issue that occurred and expand and grow federal government,” he said.
He also criticized the legislation’s failure to address the government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which he said were “the root cause” of the financial crisis that unfolded in 2008.
Harvey Neef, owner of Carpet One, where the rally took place, said he doesn’t “look forward to dealing with another possibly expanding powerful federal agency” that could regulate his business if customers want to pay for purchases via six-month installment plans.
Jerry Aldape, president and CEO of Syringa Bancorp, said the bill would hurt small banks, even though they had little to do with selling mortgages that led to the housing bubble and subsequent Wall Street meltdown.
Steve Martinez, co-owner of Tradewinds Building Co., said the bill is more than three years too late and unnecessary now that the “private sector’s actually fixed itself.”
“It’s far and overreaching,” he said. “It’s got good intentions, but it’s going to reach into every one of our pockets.”
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, who joined Crapo at the press conference, said the bill’s impact on Main Street businesses would be “a lot of boarded up storefronts.”
Other small business owners in Idaho, though, are calling for reform.
The Idaho Main Street Alliance is urging Crapo to vote in support of the legislation. Nancy Snodgrass, state coordinator, told FOX 12 that even though the bill isn’t perfect, it’s better than nothing.
“We need reform,” she said. “We want to go forward with what we have and then let’s make it better.”
Crapo said debate in the Senate could end this week with a vote to follow in the near future.