Smoked Out

As the fallout over the Bank of America debit-card fees shows, smart regulation has to be matched with aggressive consumer education.

Unemployment is  stuck at 9.1 percent. Median household incomes dropped precipitously even after the recession was declared “over.” Wall Street is earning record profits, but little of this money is making it into the hands of consumers.

Against that backdrop, Bank of America’s announcement that it would begin charging a $5 monthly fee for debit-card transactions seems like another instance of bank profiteering on the backs of ordinary Americans. But, as if the near collapse of the economy had been the product of regulators paying too much attention, the right has rushed to blame the Durbin Amendment, a provision in the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law that limits what banks can charge retailers for debit-card transactions.