According to a story in USA TODAY, David Harmer didn’t think he’d have a problem getting a $50,000 line of credit for his 33-year-old air-conditioning business.

First Class of Cape Coral, Fla., was profitable. Harmer’s net worth was $2 million, and he’d never been late with a loan payment.

As Harmer tells it, a bank executive was eager to approve the loan, but he said he simply couldn’t. “He said, ‘Our hands are tied because the government says you have to follow these guidelines,’ ” Harmer says.

Across the USA, banks say there’s a big reason they aren’t lending more: Regulators won’t let them. Even as the White House exhorts banks to open the lending spigots, particularly for small-business borrowers who are key to job growth, banks say government field examiners are toughening their reviews in ways that discourage sound loans.

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