ALEXANDRIA, Va. — NCUA Board Member Richard Metsger said Tuesday he has not met with President Barack Obama to discuss credit union issues.
Obama nominated the former Oregon state lawmaker to the NCUA board in May of this year. He was approved by the Senate and took office this summer.
“I know this is going to come as a shock to you but the president has not invited me over to discuss those issues,” said Metsger in an interview Tuesday at NCUA headquarters in Alexandria. “I know it’s hard to believe but I’d be more than happy to do that if the president would like my opinion on that but I think he’s got a full plate right now.”
In the interview, Credit Union Times asked Metsger for his assessment of the way credit unions are handling the current government shutdown.
“I’ve been on the blogs reading different associations’ newsletters and it seems like on a global basis, coast to coast, credit unions are once again answering the call,” said Metsger, who served on the Board of Directors of the Portland Teachers Credit Union from 1993 to 2001.
“That’s what credit unions do and part of their responsibility is to work with their members through difficult times, not just easy times,” he said, “and that’s something they should be very proud of. It’s also something they need to continue to do and then on the advocacy front, again, they can’t assume everybody knows that. I always tell people you need to make sure that people know you’re answering the call.”
Metsger recalled a recent broadcast news story he saw involving federal employees who turned to their national bank for assistance during the shutdown.
“It was not a flattering story as it was portrayed by that particular couple. They called the bank who said, ‘The first thing you have to do is pay the mortgage.’ ‘Well, that’s why I’m calling because how are we going to pay the mortgage?’ And they said, ‘well, can you borrow from friends?’” he said, paraphrasing the report.
“Once that aired, of course, the bank was very apologetic and they had a follow-up story – they’ve contacted people. But how many people are going to get a news reporter to do a story on television in order to get a financial institution to respond to them? I think that’s where credit unions have always shined. You don’t need to be on television to come and help,” he added.
Metsger was also asked for his opinion of Janet Yellen, Obama’s choice for chairman of the Fed.
“I would be blowing smoke if I told you that I had a great background on Janet Yellen and the credit union community, I don’t know. What I have read about Janet Yellen is she’s really well regarded. She has a very impressive resume,” he said.
“I know there’s a lot of thought that she will be more likely to follow in the steps of Ben Bernanke – that pleases some people, maybe not so much others,” Metsger said.