Treasury Vacancies Pose Challenges
Unfortunately for credit union lobbyists, there are few people at the department who can make any decisions.
The problem for lobbyists for credit unions has been that there are few people at the agency who can make decisions.
NAFCU President Fred Becker, NCUA Chairman Michael E. Fryzel and CUNA President Dan Mica have all sought meetings with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Those requests are often referred to other senior officials, but besides Geithner there are no other persons in official positions.
Officials of the NCUA and the two trade associations declined to discuss in the impact of the vacancies on the decision-making process.
"We continue to have regular contact with the Treasury Department and other executive branch departments,'' said John McKechnie, NCUA's director of public and congressional affairs.
A credit union lobbyist who requested anonymity said they are "talking to the folks in green eye shades in the bureaucracy, but the decision makers are not there.''
Bert Ely, a consultant, said the absence of people in key positions is hurting both policy development and execution.
"They are shooting from the hip on a lot of things. And there are delays on key programs, such as developing a plan for buying bad assets from financial institutions,'' he said. Help may be on the way.
President Obama earlier this month nominated three people to top positions in the Treasury Department: David Cohen as assistant secretary for terrorist financing, Alan Krueger as assistant secretary for economic policy and Kim Wallace, assistant secretary for legislative affairs.
Cohen, who held top legal positions in the Treasury Department during the Clinton administration, has been practicing law for the past eight years.
Krueger, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University, was chief economist of the Labor Department during the Clinton administration.
Wallace, who was head of the Washington Research Group at Barclays Capital, also served as a top economics adviser to former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.
All three appointments, which were announced by the White House in a news release sent out at 6 a.m. on Sunday March 8, require confirmation by the Senate.