Limbaugh makes dubious claim that plan to tax banks will cause ATM fees to rise

››› ››› ADAM SHAH

Rush Limbaugh attacked President Obama's plan to tax the biggest banks, claiming that "your life ... might get worse because your ATM fee's gonna go up." However, according to economist Dean Baker, since the tax "only applies to the largest banks, it would not be possible for the banks to pass it along to consumers, since they would lose market share to smaller banks who don't pay the tax."

Limbaugh's dubious claim: "[Y]our ATM fee's gonna go up" under Obama's proposal

From the January 14 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: He's also attacking one of the highly visible sectors in the private sector, the banking industry, because that's how he has been trained. It affords multiple opportunities for him to advance his agenda. And it all requires -- which is something pretty simple in their view, hatred of the rich, hatred of big banks, hatred of people who seem to be making out really good during a recession and capitalizing on that, basically give you people the pitchforks and have you storming Wall Street metaphorically, you're so outraged. So, Obama, your savior, comes along and starts punishing them for making profits in a recession, and you're supposed to cheer him on.

Your life won't change at all. In fact, it might get worse because your ATM fee's gonna go up. As these banks are taxed, they're gonna pass as much of it along to you and all of us as possible. That's just how it works, which Obama also knows.

Baker: Not possible for banks to pass tax along to consumers

Baker: "it would not be possible for the banks to pass [tax] along to consumers." In a January 15 post on his American Prospect blog Beat the Press, Baker noted that since the tax applies only to the largest banks, if they passed along fees to consumers, they "would lose market share to smaller banks who don't pay the tax. (If they could charge their customers more, why aren't they doing it already?)" From Baker's post:

It would also be helpful if reporters tried to evaluate the assertion of the industry lobbyists that this (or other) taxes will simply be passed on to customers. Reporters should have the time and ability to do make such an evaluation, rather than just pass along a he said/she said to readers, almost none of whom will have the time or expertise to make this assessment.

In the case of this tax, since it only applies to the largest banks, it would not be possible for the banks to pass it along to consumers, since they would lose market share to smaller banks who don't pay the tax. (If they could charge their customers more, why aren't they doing it already?) The alternative scenario, in which the large banks are able to pass on the tax, would suggest a degree of concentration in the industry which should require anti-trust action.

Posted In
Economy, Taxes, Government, The Presidency & White House
Network/Outlet
Premiere Radio Networks
Person
Rush Limbaugh
Show/Publication
The Rush Limbaugh Show
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