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<p>ARLINGTON, Va.- Credit union trade association leaders continue to duke it out with bankers and credit union critics in dueling letters to the editor. NAFCU is planning a response to a letter to the editor appearing in the June 7 issue of the American Banker in response to a May 3 article in which NAFCU President and CEO Fred Becker is quoted as saying credit unions cannot serve the general public. The letter by Malcolm Bush, president of the Woodstock Institute, suggested that credit unions are not doing all they can to serve low-income members and that they are “an historical anachronism” in that some members of Congress would view them as socialist-style entities if they did not already exist and lawmakers did not already belong to them. Becker took strong exception to Bush calling credit unions an anachronism and socialist entities. He added, “[NCUA Chairman] Dennis Dollar’s program (Access Across America) is just getting off the ground.In addition, you can’t force people to join.” He also said that the check cashing provision in the regulatory relief legislation (H.R. 3951) should help credit unions to serve more of their fields of membership. “All we are asking,” Bush wrote, “is that the credit union movement live up to its splendid founding rhetoric and its congressional mandate and provide those services to all Americans who can fit into the still expansive field of membership provisions.” CUNA has also taken the time to respond to Bush’s letter in an as yet unpublished letter to the editor from CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel. He pointed to the same check cashing amendment in the regulatory relief legislation that Becker did. Hampel also noted that credit unions received five of the 15 grants from the Treasury Department’s First Accounts pilot program and that credit unions added more than 16 million low-income residents to credit union fields of membership last year. “For credit unions that traditionally have been organized around the workplace, it will take some time to set up the infrastructure to market and provide these services in low-income communities,” he said. He also stated that Bush mischaracterized credit unions’ past ability to expand into underserved communities, which prior to H.R. 1151 was “primarily through select employee groups-one workplace at a time.”</p>

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