WASHINGTON -- The American Bankers Association took out an advertisement in Roll Call, a Washington, D.C. political newspaper, opposing the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act before lawmakers have even had the opportunity to introduce it in the 110th Congress.
The move came on the eve of CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference that regularly brings thousands of credit union executives and volunteers from across the country to Capitol Hill to discuss credit union issue with their legislators. Approximately 4,000 are expected to attend the GAC this year, CUNA has said.
The ABA ad states that credit unions were "chartered to serve people of small means." It added, "Yet some are using heir tax exemption to finance shopping centers, hotels and other multi-million-dollar corporate projects." It also cites part of a recent study by the Government Accountability Office and another by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, the NAACP, and the National Council of La Raza that are not favorable to credit unions.
"Given that credit unions have fallen short of their mission, why would Congress expand their ability to finance multi-million dollar projects?" the advertisement, signed by each of the state banking trade associations in addition to ABA, asks.
CUNA Senior Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose said the ABA's effort was predictable given CUNA's GAC and his group is not going to stray from its current advocacy plan just because of one ad. "Our members and consumers are with us and that's really what counts at the end of the day," he said.
"The American Bankers Association is up to its usual hypocrisy," NAFCU President/CEO Fred Becker wrote in a Feb. 21 letter to all members of Congress, "running ads that distort the true facts about credit unions in their ploy to grab additional market share for their ABA member banks and take their record profits to higher levels." According to NAFCU, the ABA's ad inaccurately states that credit unions exist to serve those of "small means."
The bankers' ad specifically targets the business lending provisions expected to be in CURIA. Becker countered that the median member business loan is just $89,500 and, as of September 2006, credit unions' total commercial loan market share was just 0.80%.