When John B. McCoy blasts your financial reform bill, it's in trouble.
Bank One Corp.'s president and chief executive, who has been one of the staunchest supporters of reform, declared last week that he will "adamantly oppose" the bill unless lawmakers remove the limits on information sharing among affiliates in the House Commerce Committee's proposal.
Otherwise, he told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert in a June 17 letter, the legislation would be pointless.
"We insist that we be able to provide for the consumer's needs, bringing to bear all of the resources and expertise we possess," Mr. McCoy wrote. "We cannot allow the Congress to dictate the terms and conditions of Bank One's relationship with those citizens who choose to do business with us. It's anti-consumer. It's anti-free marketplace. It has no place in the U.S. economy."
About 40 bankers from the New York Bankers Association met with top lawmakers and regulators during a two-day conference here last week.
Fellow New Yorker Rep. John J. LaFalce, House Banking's ranking Democrat, told the bankers that they would have to make concessions on privacy limits, but he pledged to help the industry prevent restrictions from being too burdensome.
"It will be virtually impossible to keep legislation moving on a strong bipartisan basis if this bill does not contain meaningful protections that address consumers' real and justified concerns about the uses of their private financial data," Rep. LaFalce said. "At the same time, I appreciate the seriousness of the industry's concern that the provisions must be workable and the regulatory structure must be appropriate."
When the House Commerce Committee added those privacy limits to the financial reform bill on June 10, Rep. Edward J. Markey had an ironic observation.
Addressing a roomful of lobbyists, Rep. Markey noted that the legislation will lead to more consolidation and eliminate many of their jobs. "In the future, we can only have about a third of the people out there," the Massachusetts Democrat said.