Citizens must wait to see full reform effects

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, July 18, 2010

With this past week’s passage of massive financial reformlegislation, Americans have another reason to sit back and wait forthe other shoe to fall on what it will actually mean to them.

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama managed to get his toppriority of a health care reform bill through Congress. Someaspects of that bill are taking hold now, but the full effect willnot be seen until 2013 or later.

The waiting game appears much the same in the finance reformbill. The only difference is that it involves a sector of theeconomy that does not have as much direct influence on people’slives as health care.

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Under the reform bill, government overseers have been given timeto come up with and craft the rules under which banks, otherfinancial institutions and ultimately we as customers will live.Eventually, it appears there will be oversight boards andregulations to govern virtually every aspect of financialoperations.

Much of the discussion about financial matters seems high-mindedand dull as dirt to everyday bank customers who wish do little morethan to deposit money in their bank and get money from its ATM whenneeded.

But who knows how much fallout small, community banks could seeas a result of lawmakers’ zeal to create rules to regulate bigbanks’ activities. The reform measures could turn out to be a caseof using a meat cleaver when a scalpel was needed.

Anyone who has been to a bank lately to get a loan realizes theprocess involves something just short of providing your completebanking history since birth to get approved.

Under the new bill, lenders will have to be able to prove thatpotential borrowers will be able to repay their loans, based onuniform standards – not a borrower’s past history and futurepossibilities. So expect the verification process to become evenmore involved and, with that, the possible implementation of morefees to cover related work.

Supporters of the health care and finance reform measures laudthem as great mechanisms for expanding services and safeguardingcitizens, while at the same time not putting any of the financialburden on most taxpayers. Of course, “the rich” and the impersonal”business” will be expected to foot most of the bill.

The funny thing is, though, that “the rich” can only cover somuch of the increased costs – particularly in the health care area- and businesses do not pay taxes.

Any added costs businesses incur in their operations are eithertaken away from employee benefits or are passed on to customers inthe form of higher product costs, fee increases or in some otherfashion. Neither avenue is good, but businesses are left with thoseoptions or closing up shop altogether.

With so many details of the finance reform measure to be workedout and years before the health care bill takes full effect, muchconsideration about their impact at this point is pure conjecture.Only time will tell if the legislation turns out to have been goodfor the country and its citizens.

Doing nothing was not an answer. But for the health ofeveryone’s pocketbooks, we can only hope the legislation does notdo too much.