In this installment of our series featuring the distasteful Dick, I yield the floor to Richard Epstein. Epstein lucidly explores Durbin’s destructive foray into the regulation of the financial services industry in “The Dick Durbin debit card fiasco.”
Professor Epstein packs a lot of learning into a brief column on a complex subject. Durbin’s leading role in the drama could be written off to stupidity, but it is worse than stupid. In classic style Durbin acted as the servant of such retail giants as Wal-Mart and Target in appropriating the use of the debit card on terms that raise a serious constitutional issue. As the errand boy of the retail side of big business, Durbin looks to have reaped the usual rewards.
The Durbin Amendment under which debit card interchange fees are now being regulated is also bad public policy. As Professor Epstein says: “The whole scheme looks from start to finish to be a huge wealth transfer to retailers from the customers who they profess to serve and the banks with whom they deal.” To which Durbin has added his usual dose of demagogy.