Small businesses and lower-income Americans could be dealt a major blow if proposed banking regulations are approved, warn Wall Street CEOs. The proposed rules, which are part of the Financial CHOICE (Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers and Entrepreneurs) Act, were announced last fall. They provide for the easing of consumer protections and the relaxation of regulations on Wall Street deemed too onerous by the Obama administration. The CEOs, many of whom support the relaxation of the regulations, argue that the proposed rules could actually have a detrimental impact on many small businesses and lower-income Americans. They contend that the relaxed rules could give Wall Street firms a competitive edge and limit the services available to smaller banks, as well as reduce credit access to those people living on the lowest incomes. “We are concerned that the cost of doing business as a small bank or credit union could go up” explained Stuart E. Miller of Citi. Smaller, regional banks fear that the proposed rules could make it costlier for them to remain regulated, as well as force them to reduce lending to their traditional customers. ” You have to be careful that you don’t impair growth for small businesses, given they are a major driver of the U.S. economy,” Miller added. Indeed, while banks are unwilling to pay the financial costs of complying with the proposed rules, the human cost of reducing access to credit for the most vulnerable could be incalculable. The Financial CHOICE Act is still making its way through the legislative process, with House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan recently announcing that he was in favor of the proposed regulations. Though proponents of the CHOICE Act claim that less regulation will help spur economic growth, the potential consequences of reducing consumer protection – including reduced access to credit for those most in need – are worrying many involved in the financial industry. Until these issues can be fully understood and discussions had, it is perhaps best for all involved to proceed with caution. These proposed regulations are complex, and with the stakes high, a much more in-depth assessment of the costs and benefits must be undertaken to fully understand the consequences for small businesses and lower-income Americans.