Bloomberg, meanwhile, has this interesting piece of information:

Debit transactions should pass at face value, just like checks, according to the National Retail Federation.

Debit cards formerly passed at face value, but now the biggest banks and card companies are using them to circumvent the system and are reducing the face value of debit-card transactions through higher fees,” NRF chief lobbyist Steve Pfister said in a statement. “This hurts retailers and merchants of all sizes, including doctors’ offices, restaurants and florists, and it causes all of our customers to pay more.”

And it notes that credit-card fees are high:

The industry escaped previous attempts to regulate interchange on credit cards, which average about 2 percent per transaction, saying the fees are needed to compensate them for the risk of lending money. That argument isn’t relevant to interchange on debit cards, which tap funds held in consumer checking accounts.

But how much is the average debit-card cut banks get now? Bloomberg doesn’t tell us, and neither does the Journal. Why not? That’s what the whole story is about.

In what little the Times writes about the amendment, it doesn’t tell us either (it quotes Durbin saying it’s “1 to 3 percent on credit or debit transactions). What little space the Durbin amendment gets results in an error:

The amendment by Mr. Durbin would direct the Federal Reserve to set limits so that fees charged for credit and debit card transactions were “reasonable and proportional” to the cost of processing the charges.

That’s not right. That change only applies to debit cards.

Better coverage, please.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at