Boehner and the banks

BOEHNER AND THE BANKS…. For quite a while now, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) has been going to great lengths to try to make banks happy. Despite the fact that Wall Street and bailed out bankers aren’t especially popular among American voters right now — this is the crowd that nearly collapsed the global economy — the would-be Speaker has been embarrassing himself, trying to curry favor with the industry.

This week was especially galling. On Wednesday, Boehner spoke at the American Bankers Association’s government relations summit, and denounced efforts to bring more oversight and accountability to the industry. He even gave the bankers advice: “Don’t let those little punk staffers take advantage of you and stand up for yourselves.”

Yes, because the real problem with the last several years is that banks haven’t been assertive enough. (The “little punk staffers” line also didn’t go over well among more responsible figures.)

Last night on Fox News, Boehner went a little further. Complaining that Democrats may pass a key student-loan package, the Minority Leader insisted that the provisions “eliminate every bank in the country and all private student loan lenders so the government can do it instead.”

Pat Garofalo explained how foolish this is.

This is just astoundingly wrong. On a very basic level, it could only be true if the sole thing banks did was make student loans, which is obviously not the case. The day after student loan reform passes, banks will still be there, cashing checks, taking deposits, making home loans, and on and on.

But the greater point Boehner was trying to make is that student loan reform is somehow a new expansion of government into the private economy…. But the government already provides the money for the loans and guarantees the lenders against loss, in addition to directly making millions of loans every year. So student lending is, for all intents and purposes, already a federal program.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) complained last year that the financial industry too often seems to the “own the place,” referring to Congress. Boehner seems intent on just handing the keys over entirely.