Editorials

Barr attacks reformers but not Wells Fargo

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr
U.S. Rep. Andy Barr

OK, we get that in face of the scandal unrolling at Wells Fargo it’s hard for big-bank-loving Republicans like our own U.S. Rep. Andy Barr to keep whining about the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform act that created an agency to keep an eye on big banks.

Wells Fargo employees created 2 million fake accounts to cheat their customers out of $1.5 million in fees. It was the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — that awful Dodd-Frank creation that Barr, R-Lexington, wants to gut — that investigated the wrongdoing and assessed $185 million in fines.

Perhaps it makes sense, politically at least, that the Republican-controlled House Financial Services Committee, on which Barr serves, would prefer this scandal just quietly lapse into history. That may explain why, unlike its Senate counterpart, the House committee hasn’t held hearings on the Wells Fargo fraud.

But Barr spokesman Rick VanMeter couldn’t leave it there.

Instead, when reporter John Cheves asked about the strange silence from the committee, VanMeter blustered: “It is ironic that supporters of Dodd-Frank claim the law protects consumers, when this alleged fraud occurred after the law went into effect.”

Come again?

It’s ironic that Wells Fargo has fired 5,300 employees involved while giving a lush retirement — equal almost to the fines —to the executive in charge.

It’s ironic that Wells Fargo admits no wrongdoing while agreeing to refund money to clients hurt by the scam and pay the huge fine.

It’s ironic that Barr, who has received $10,500 from a Wells Fargo PAC since 2013, has so little to say about the scandal.

But it’s not ironic that passing a law alone did not end the behavior it was intended to prevent.

If that were so, there’d be no political corruption or terrorism. Doctors and patients would never scam Medicare or Medicaid, no one would cheat on their taxes or sell illegal drugs and we’d have clean air and water.

It’s not ironic VanMeter and Barr think voters would fall for this kind of doubletalk. But it is shameful.

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