WASHINGTON – President Trump told a group of community bankers Monday that he is trying to cut the number of government regulations they have long protested, even as he floated the idea of breaking up bigger banks.
Speaking to some 100 members of the Independent Community Bankers of America gathered in a White House garden, Trump said attempts to repeal the Dodd-Frank bill that tightened regulations on various financial practices is also the start of a long-term effort to "roll back burdensome regulations" – many of them imposed by during President Obama's administration.
As for bigger banks, however, Trump struck a different tune. He told Bloomberg News that he is considering a plan to break up bigger banks by reviving a law designed to separate consumer lending and investment banking.
“I’m looking at that right now,” Trump told Bloomberg News. “There’s some people that want to go back to the old system, right? So we’re going to look at that.”
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said later that Trump spoke during the 2016 campaign about breaking up big banks, but "we're not a point where we're ready to roll out details" of a specific plan.
In his brief remarks to community bankers, Trump did not mention the reported new spending bill that Congress has agreed to, nor his hopes for a health care vote this week in the Republican-run House. He did, however, cite another item on his agenda, telling his guests at the White House that "we're proposing one of the largest tax cuts in history even larger than Ronald Reagan."
Warming up the crowd before Trump's appearance, Vice President Pence told guests at the White House, "you might be small and community banks but you have a big, big impact on a growing American economy."
Congressional Democrats say Trump's proposed regulation cuts could lead to the kinds of shady loan practices that led to the financial crisis that began in 2008.
The president praised Independent Community Bankers Association members for bringing red hats embossed with a variation of the Trump campaign theme, "Make America Great Again." The sea of red hats in the audience said, "Make Community Banking Great Again."
Upon exiting, Trump joked: "No bad loans, please."