Local banks will benefit from Rep. Barr’s plan

Ballard Cassady Jr.
Ballard Cassady Jr.

I read with interest both Congressman Andy Barr’s opinion piece, “Revise banking laws for opportunity for all, bailouts for none,” and Nancy Jo Kemper’s response.

As the president and CEO of the Kentucky Bankers Association, I have closely followed Congressman Andy Barr’s efforts in Washington. I am very familiar with the promises that Congress made when the Dodd-Frank Act was passed, and also very familiar with how many of those promises failed.

We told Congress then that Dodd-Frank would put a chokehold on community banking and consumers around the country. It fell on deaf ears and passed with no Republican votes in the House and only three Republican votes in the Senate.

Community banks are the cornerstone of so many communities, especially those in rural states like Kentucky. Community banks support local citizens, local charities, small business and more.

I agree with Kemper in that regard. I also agree that the solitary efforts by Barr to help community banking perhaps may not go far enough to help struggling community banks, as we see the numbers decline annually. But, Kemper’s attack is misdirected.

Barr has made every effort to include bank size or complexity limits on regulatory relief legislation to help boost economic recovery. In each instance he has been met with opposition, or stonewalled — principally by Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Ranking Member Maxine Waters, D.-Calif., whom Kemper quotes. It seems that Waters is confused about her voting record.

Barr recognizes the need for strong, locally managed banks in all communities in Kentucky, especially our rural communities. I have attended several town hall meetings at which very pointed questions were asked of him about the need for community banks to be allowed to do their banking business without undue regulatory burdens restricting them from keeping their communities alive. He has answered with a full understanding of the issues and with genuine compassion.

Barr represents Kentuckians well, regardless of their address, their political affiliation or their occupation.

I understand that there is an election coming up and that candidates, especially those looking to oust incumbents, have to find distinguishing issues and positions. Kemper however has missed the mark on this one.

I am proud of our community bankers and what they do for our communities across Kentucky. I want to hear candidate positions that are founded and backed by supporting data. What I don’t want to hear are attacks against someone like Barr who is really trying to make a difference for the future of my commonwealth, my community and my chosen career.

I would recommend that any registered voter in Kentucky who is confused about these issues, and Barr’s position, take the time to speak to their community bank president. He or she will tell you that Barr is committed to maintaining Kentucky’s communities and community banks.

Ballard Cassady Jr. is president and CEO of the Kentucky Bankers Association.

At issue: July 31 commentary by Rep. Andy Barr, “Revise banking laws for opportunity for all, bailouts for none” and Aug. 7 commentary by Nancy Jo Kemper, “Don’t bank on congressman’s Trojan Horse bills