WASHINGTON — For years Republicans have criticized banks and the Obama administration for appearing to pick sides on hot-button issues such as gun violence and climate change, saying it is not a financial institution’s place to deny services to politically sensitive sectors.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency took that criticism to a new level Friday, proposing a “fair access” standard for banks over $100 billion of assets that requires them to cater to any business that meets objective, quantitative criteria for receiving services.
The proposal says banks effectively should be blind to any political or social-justice implications of serving one industry over another, and should instead just focus on the numbers.
“Neither the OCC nor banks are well-equipped to balance risks unrelated to financial exposures and the operations required to deliver financial services,” the agency wrote in the proposal. “For example, climate change is a real risk, but so is the risk of foreign wars caused in part by U.S. energy dependence and the risk of blackouts caused by energy shortages.”