In a Guest Opinion article in Credit Union Times [Jan. 23 issue, page xx], former CUNA president Dan Mica, now an industry consultant, shared his forecast for the 113th Congress. His prediction that measuring the success of the next two years by what does not occur rather than by what does occur would appear to be spot-on. His belief that the major area of activity in Washington will shift to the regulatory arena also rings true. Too bad he didn’t stop there.
Mica’s ideas about who is or is not a friend of the credit union industry couldn’t be further off-base. His citations of former Rep. Barney Frank, current ranking minority member on the House Financial Services Committee Rep. Maxine Waters, and Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Tim Johnson as credit union allies are hard to swallow. And designating newly elected Sen. Elizabeth Warren–the instigator of the onerous Consumer Financial Protection Bureau–as a credit union champion is jaw-dropping incredulous. These elected officials are at best described as frenemies. Whatever good they might have done for credit unions in the past was utterly destroyed by recent actions.
Every one of these so-called credit union champions has his or her messy fingerprints all over the highly partisan government-interventionist Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. It is impossible for any rational person to conclude that the Dodd-Frank Act and the micro-managing CFPB that it created are in any way good for credit unions. The crushing regulatory burden and marketplace-distorting mandates from this legislation will become painfully clear during 2013. Mica’s credit union champions own this disruptive law and meddlesome regulatory agency. If these legislators are friends, then credit union officials never want to run into a true political enemy on Capitol Hill.
Indeed, if you like the Dodd-Frank Act and the CFPB, then you will definitely love what these champions have planned for credit unions. They will be spending the next two years staunchly defending the Dodd-Frank Act’s counterproductive legal and regulatory thrust that will close too-small-to-comply credit unions by the hundreds, radically increase costs for those credit unions that manage to keep their heads above the regulatory flood and ration credit and other financial services available to credit union members. As long as the industry remains confused about its political friends, frenemies and true enemies, credit unions will continue to be tormented by Congress and the CFPB.
Mica is welcome to his own wrong opinions, but it would be foolish to trust the salvation of the industry to his designated champions. Know the new Congress for what it really is–and credit unions’ friend it is definitely not.
Marvin C. Umholtz
Umholtz Strategic Planning & Consulting Services