Issues-Packed GAC Offers Chance to Get Involved
We certainly have our hands full of issues these days:
- Data security, as exemplified by the Target data breach and which cost credit unions at least $30.6 million (so far), mostly the result of costs credit unions incurred in reissuing more than 4.6 million debit and credit cards;
- The proposed “risk-based capital rule,” which, if implemented – according to our analysis – would lead to credit unions needing to hold as much as $7.3 billion in additional capital, as they would struggle to raise funds to maintain their current margins above capital requirements;
- Protecting our tax exemption, front and center for us anytime that tax reform is an issue within the Congress.
As credit unions gather for the 2014 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, these issues (among others) are foremost in the minds of many of our participants. Further, these issues all have something in common: To be resolved, they all require active involvement by credit unions and their supporters.
And CUNA and the leagues are giving credit union supporters the tools and means necessary to be actively engaged.
When I first came to CUNA nearly four years ago, I emphasized developing to the maximum the grassroots power of credit unions. I wanted to be sure that every member of Congress would hear from credit unions when key issues came up.
I extended that approach to the regulatory process, as well, with the view that, someday soon, credit unions would comment in greater and greater volume on key, proposed regulatory issues before them.
Since then, we’ve been pushing as hard as possible to increase our grassroots involvement.
Fast forward to today, and CUNA and the leagues are putting their backs into giving credit unions the means for making the voices of credit unions heard on the issues. And we’re getting results.
Take protection of our tax exemption, for example. Our “Don't Tax My Credit Union” campaign – aimed at protecting the exemption early on amid talks of tax reform in the Congress – generated 1.3 million contacts with Congress since the campaign was rolled out last May – less than seven months’ time. That's an all-time record for us in grassroots outreach, and is a testament to the commitment of credit unions and Leagues to speaking out and acting.
We also leveraged social media in this effort – with an ultimate reach of 3.4 million social media users who were exposed to our message.
Now consider the proposed rule on risk-based capital. Credit unions have grave concerns about the proposal, and CUNA has urged the NCUA to hold public hearings on it, to provide an interactive setting between credit unions and NCUA leadership, and produce an official record that the NCUA Board may rely upon to determine the best path.
But even more critically, credit unions must weigh in on the proposal during the 90-day comment period. CUNA and the leagues have put into place a variety of resources to ensure that credit unions have all of the information they need to develop thoughtful, fact-filled comments. Further, we’re working on techniques for making it even easier than ever before for credit unions to submit comments.
Then, there's the issue of data security – truly one of the most infuriating for credit unions, as they end up paying the costs for a security lapse by a retailer.
With more than 4,000 credit union supporters in town – many of them brimming over with a desire to urge lawmakers to take action on data security – this is an optimum time to act. CUNA has supplied credit union representatives all the information they need this week to urge Congress to ensure that:
All participants in the payments system are held to comparable levels of data security requirements;
Consumers know where their data was compromised in the event of a breach; and,
Merchants are required to reimburse credit unions for costs of reissuing cards.
The efforts we are putting forth show that “grassroots involvement” is a multifaceted effort in this day and age. And given the scope of the issues credit unions face, credit unions must take a multifaceted approach.
CUNA and the leagues are providing just that for the movement, and you’ll see it all take place during the GAC.
Bill Cheney is president/CEO of CUNA. He can be reached at 202-508-6745 or firstname.lastname@example.org.