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Max vs. Media: On the new banking legislation

Surprisingly, last week’s news cycle was slow and steady. Cable news shows aired clips of inspirational soft news, extended weather segments and failed to mention anything political.

If you believed that, your head must’ve been stuck 10 feet under ground last week because political news was rampant. Rex Tillerson was fired on the toilet by a tweet, Conor Lamb won a deeply red congressional district, rumors of John Bolton replacing McMaster surfaced, developments occurred in “Stormy-gate” and Andrew McCabe was fired days before his planned retirement. However, the most important and impactful event that occurred last week was the Senate banking bill.

The firing of Rex Tillerson, while dramatic, was not very impactful. While Tillerson held the secretary of state position for over a year, he never earned the trust of President Trump. Tillerson allegedly called the president a “moron” and never denied saying that. Jared Kushner, an eminently unqualified surrogate, was essentially a de-facto secretary of state. Remember, he’s solving Middle East peace right now.

Conor Lamb’s victory in the Pennsylvanian 18th Congressional District has no tangible effects for this country. Because of how gerrymandered Pennsylvania is, the state Supreme Court redrew the districts so the Trump districts that Lamb won will be split up and combined with other areas of western Pennsylvania. Lamb also campaigned as a traditional centrist Democrat with military experience, legal experience, a family dynasty in the region, along with being a (comparatively) handsome, young politician. That’s not something Democrats can easily replicate.

Rumors of McMaster’s firing have been circling for weeks. While John Bolton replacing him as national security advisor would be a huge development, it still hasn’t happened. But what’s the point of focusing on an impeding national security disaster anyways? We have enough of those as it is.

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s firing is significant in a legal sense. He was allegedly fired because of his dishonesty — something hard to believe coming from lying Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump. How could Sessions accuse someone of dishonesty when he can’t “recall” anything during testimony? The McCabe drama might prove to be the nail on the coffin on the obstruction of justice case Robert Mueller has been brewing up, but the story might disappear in a few days. For certain, the firing does not affect the actual lives of Americans directly.

The Senate banking bill — unlike the other stories mentioned — might have a real impact on the American population. While it got some attention on Sunday morning shows, the actual substance of the bill was hardly discussed. Liberals like Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown said the bill works in favor of Wall Street and raises the chances of another financial crisis. Warren criticized moderate democrats from red states for their support of the bill.

Unfortunately, much of the news coverage has not been on the actual impact of the bill; rather, it has been on the political circus of liberal-centrist democrats.

This is the heart of television news’ core issue: It often treats political news as political theater, not something that impacts real Americans. Even if you watched the news every night last week, my guess is that you think the bill either helps big banks (if you’re liberal-leaning) or helps community banks (if you’re conservative-leaning). But the truth is more complex.

Here are some of the actual effects of the bill passed by 67 senators (a veto-proof supermajority):

The bill increases the bar for banks that are considered “too big to fail” from $50 billion in assets to $250 billion. This applies to household names including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

The bill ends a rule that forces two large custody banks — State Street and Bank of New York Mellon —  to hold excessive cash as a shield against damages they may incur. Custodian banks draw money from big name investors, not ordinary citizens seeking to hold their money.

The bill also eliminated the Volcker Rule, which prevented banks to engage in risky bets backed up by taxpayer money, for community banks holding less than $10 billion.

The bill forces reporting agencies including Equifax, Experian and TransUnion to freeze their clients’ credit reports for free, in light of the Equifax breach that revealed tens of millions of Americans’ personal information.

Therefore, while the bill does indeed relax some regulations, it also provides consumer protections and continues to ensure strict regulations on our largest banks. But I’m guessing you didn’t know that, and it’s not your fault.

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