Ben Nelson Not Too Familar With ATMs
As Congress debates a bill that would regulate the fees banks can charge for using an Automatic Teller Machine, there’s at least one Senator who may not be entirely familiar with what they’re seeking to regulate:
WASHINGTON — Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has been fighting unsuccessfully this week for a vote on his proposal to limit the fees charged for using the ATM of a financial institution other than your own.
It might help if he showed some of his Senate colleagues the ATM in the basement of the Capitol, which prominently displays one of those “Fee Notice” signs that frustrate so many constituents. Customers with ATM cards not issued by the U.S. Senate Federal Credit Union face a $2 fee for withdrawals from the machine, on top of whatever fees their own banks charge.
Lawmakers walk past that ATM all the time on their way to votes on the Senate floor, but don’t expect to see Sen. Ben Nelson stopping to grab some quick cash.
The Nebraska Democrat pleaded ignorance when asked this week whether Congress should cap ATM fees. Nelson said that while he’s no fan of unnecessary fees, he’s unfamiliar with the charges.
“I’ve never used an ATM, so I don’t know what the fees are,” Nelson said, adding that he gets his cash from bank tellers, just not automatic ones. “It’s true, I don’t know how to use one.
“But I could learn how to do it just like I’ve . . . I swipe to get my own gas, buy groceries. I know about the holograms.”
By “holograms,” Nelson clarified that he meant the bar codes on products read by automatic scanners in the checkout lanes at stores such as Lowe’s and Menard’s.
“I go and get my own seating assignment on an airplane,” Nelson said. “I mean, I’m not without some skills. I just haven’t had the need to use an ATM.”
It’s an amusing story, and reminiscent of George H.W. Bush’s encounter with a cash register (which this article at Snopes shows wasn’t exactly what it seemed to be at the time) or Ted Stevens’s description of the Internet as “a series of tubes”, but it does raise the question of exactly how Congress is supposed to be expected to trusted to regulate modern technology when members don’t even understand what it’s regulating.