As a 25-year-old, I set out to follow my dream and start my own construction company.
I knew it would be difficult, but I hoped I would be able to grow a business and provide for my young family by doing what I love most.
At the time, I set out in search of a line of credit. Thankfully, I knew some folks at the local bank, and they were willing to give me the credit I needed to start R.W. Allen &Associates.
Over the next 16 years, my local bank underwent several mergers with larger banks. Once they became a larger bank, they would no longer give my business the line of credit needed to continue the company.
In my time of need, I turned to another community bank, where I had developed good relationships. They knew my company’s dependable reputation and gauged my credit-worthiness based on character and trust. Without their faith in me and my business, I know I would not have been able to continue to grow my company and employ so many great people at R.W. Allen.
For those entrepreneurs who set out to start a business in the past nine years since the financial crisis, these opportunities are often unavailable. Nowadays, community banks are unable to lend to those in their own community if they don’t meet the overly rigid rules imposed by unelected Washington bureaucrats.
In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, House Democrats, under the leadership of then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, passed the Dodd-Frank Act. This sweeping legislation imposed more regulations than every single other Obama administration law, combined.
These regulations promised to end taxpayer-funded bailouts and boost economic growth, but we all know that Dodd-Frank has not kept any of these promises—and instead led to banks that are “too big to fail.”
For the past 37 years, I have grown my business from the ground up, but I am losing hope that my 12 grandchildren will have the same economic opportunities that I had. Americans are currently suffering through the slowest, weakest recovery in recent memory.
Dodd-Frank’s regulatory burdens have been strangling community banks, as they face increasingly confusing and costly compliance. This compliance burden has been passed on to consumers, who are now provided with limited credit options and banks less likely to make small business loans.
Under Dodd-Frank, America has been losing one community bank or credit union each day.
We have seen this right here in the 12th District. Many of you will remember the many community banks in our area that have been forced to merge with larger regional banks. The Augusta Chronicle reported that in 2017 there were “more than two dozen bank deals to occur in the Southeast this year as small and midsize banks attempt to gain size and scale – $10 billion being the threshold – to more profitably comply with regulations mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act.”
I believe all Americans should have the opportunity to grow a business and succeed. For these reasons, I was proud to stand behind House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and vote in support of the Financial CHOICE Act this past week.
Under this legislation, well-capitalized banks will be able to opt out of some Dodd-Frank-era regulations, allowing them more freedom to provide small businesses and entrepreneurs the capital they need to grow their businesses and create jobs in our communities.
The largest lenders for small businesses are community banks, and under this plan, the majority of community banks would already qualify for regulatory relief.
In addition, the Financial CHOICE Act will hold Wall Street accountable, with the toughest penalties in history. The legislation also calls for bankruptcy in the event that financial firms fail – ending taxpayer-funded bailouts once and for all.
Unlike Nancy Pelosi, House Republicans have proven that we are here to keep our promises.
I was fortunate enough to have a local bank believe in me, believe in my dream and help me start my business. Who knows if any bank in 2017 would’ve, or could’ve, taken a chance on the 25-year-old me, but I am confident that my vote for the Financial CHOICE Act will help small businesses and entrepreneurs across the 12th district.
I hope my Senate colleagues will quickly consider this legislation, and I look forward to a future where my grandchildren will have the same opportunity to pursue and achieve their goals and realize the American Dream.
Congressman Rick Allen represents the 12th Congressional District of Georgia.