WASHINGTON - It may not get the same laughs as David Letterman's famed Top 10 lists, but it's sure to earn a few smiles from bankers.
Senate Republicans last week released a list of the 10 worst regulations, and two banking regulations - the Truth-in-Lending Act and the Community Reinvestment Act - made the cut.
"One of the Truth-in-Lending Act's primary purposes of informing consumers of credit terms and costs seems to have been lost and even buried in excessive and unnecessary paperwork requirements," said Sen. Christopher S. Bond of Missouri.
Sen. Bond is co-chairman of the Senate Republican Regulatory Task Force with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas.
Topping their list was the Endangered Species Act; Truth-in-Lending, which is enforced by Federal Reserve Board Regulation Z, was ranked sixth.
CRA barely made the cut, squeaking in as No. 10.
"I think as a community banking group we'd reverse the order of CRA and Truth-in-Lending," said Kenneth A. Guenther, executive vice president of the Independent Bankers Association of America. "But the industry would really applaud the fact that, out of the top 10, two are banking regs."
However, Karen Shaw, president of ISD/Shaw Inc., said she was not surprised to hear that Truth-in-Lending ranked higher than CRA. That's because of the Rodash case, in which a court forced a bank to rescind a loan and repay interest charges after determining that a delivery fee had been incorrectly disclosed.
"A lot of the industry has pushed to have Truth-in-Lending looked at because of the Rodash decision, since Truth-in-Lending is an annoying, nit- picking regulation," said Ms. Shaw, whose consulting firm tracks bank legislation and regulation.
"Rodash has highlighted the real risks of failing to dot the i's - a lot of plaintiff's lawyers have been filing Rodash actions lately," she said.
The original list of suggestions for worst regulations was six pages along, Sen. Hutchison said.
"There were so many nominees that it was very difficult to tally the votes for the top 10," she said.
The task force is divided into subgroups, each made up of members from a corresponding authorizing committee. The banking subgroup, whose members are Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama and Sen. Robert Bennett of Utah, will be asked to tackle Truth-in-Lending and CRA.
The subgroups will be asked to develop action plans "to find out how to make (the regulations) less burdensome or, for those regulations which may be clearly more burden than they are worth, consider introducing legislation or other action to get rid of them."
Sen. Don Nickles, a member of the Senate Finance subgroup, said last week that he plans to introduce a bill that would give Congress 45 days to examine newly issued regulations to ensure they are consistent with congressional intent.
"If the regulatory impact has an impact of over $100 million, the same threshold we are using now in the unfunded mandates bill, Congress should have at least 45 days to review that regulation and potentially to reject it," said the Oklahoma Republican.
"If regulators are not doing the job we expected them to do, if they are going beyond congressional intent, or not even close to congressional intent, we need to go in and have the chance to say, 'No, this is not what we had intended,' " added Sen. Hutchison.