Senator Tom Harkin is pressing for new federal limits on the fees charged for using an “automatic teller machine” or A.T.M. “How often have you gone to an A.T.M. machine to access your own cash from your own credit union or your own bank and they charge you a couple bucks?” Harkin asks. “…We’ve seen it as high as $5 in some parts of the country.”

Harkin, a Democrat, says the actual cost of processing an A.T.M. transaction is about 36 cents, while the Federal Reserve reports the average A.T.M. fee for a transaction is $2.66. “That doesn’t seem right to me and it doesn’t seem right to a lot of consumers,” Harkin says. “It’s unfair for people to pay that much to access their own cash.”

Harkin suggests there be a 50-cent limit on A.T.M. fees for consumers who’re withdrawing cash from their own accounts. Harkin says that “restores some balance” for consumers. “Quite frankly things have tipped so far in favor of big banks in this country and so far from consumers, we often don’t even know what a reasonable balance looks like anymore,” Harkin says.

A.T.M. fees were forbidden in Iowa until 2002 when federal banking regulators overruled the state law, opening the door to A.T.M. fees here. Six months after that change, national banks had collected five-million dollars in fees from Iowans who were using A.T.M.s