U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown: Protect consumers and hold Wall Street accountable

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2022

All too often I hear from Ohioans who have been abused by our financial system, which is set up to benefit the biggest banks, at the expense of pretty much everyone else.

It’s why last year, after I took over as chair of the Banking and Housing Committee, we started the annual tradition of bringing the CEOs of our country’s biggest banks before the committee, to hold them accountable.

These megabanks rake in huge profits, year after year – during good times and bad times, even during the pandemic, and even while corporations raise prices and Americans deal with inflation. And the big banks aren’t just making those profits in spite of what’s happening to their customers – they’re making massive profits at the direct expense of their customers, and their workers.

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Whether they’re promoting payment apps rampant with scams, whether they’re making Black and brown borrowers pay more for their mortgages, or whether they’re turning small businesses away for PPP loans – these banks chase short-term profits at the expense of everyone and everything else.

Leading up to Thursday’s hearing, our committee released documents on each of these seven banks, detailing how so many of them continue to break the rules, to underpay their workers and to exploit their customers with abusive fees.

Look at what happened with Zelle – it’s a payment app these banks started and it’s become rampant with fraud. And they refuse to do anything to protect people.

Or look at how they treat their workers. The CEO of JP Morgan is paid 917 times more than their median worker. We know that CEO doesn’t work 917 times harder than a customer service agent. This is what’s wrong with our economy. And it’s why the work we do on the committee to hold these banks accountable matters. We’ve proven that even Wall Street isn’t immune to shame and pressure.

We’ve pressed these CEOs for years to lower or eliminate overdraft fees, and we got results. Last year Citibank – the country’s fourth largest bank – announced they would eliminate customer overdraft fees. PNC followed and announced changes to their overdraft fee structure.

Getting banks to eliminate these fees will save Americans billions of dollars a year. And that’s what we want – for workers to keep more of their hard-earned money, at a time when they need it most.

We know these banks have too much power in our economy. Our job is to stand up to them, on behalf of Ohioans and all the Americans who try to do everything right, yet still get burned by the Wall Street system.

Sherrod Brown is a Democrat and the senior U.S. senator representing Ohio. His office can be reached at 212-224-2315.