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Now that the 107th Congress is history, along with the ill advised credit union supported bankruptcy legislation, I would suggest that it’s time for credit union leaders to go back to square one and reconsider our entire approach to the bankruptcy issue. Credit union organizations spent large amounts of money, time, effort, and precious political capital supporting a bankruptcy bill that was so skewed in favor of big credit card issuers that even long time credit union supporters amongst the legislators would not support it. The credit union lobbying effort also alienated the credit union movement from many of our natural allies among consumer advocacy groups. And for what? As others have pointed out, credit union statistics simply do not support the view that abusive bankruptcy filings are a significant problem for credit unions. Credit unions have consistently supported legislation to rein in predatory payday lenders and predatory real estate lenders. Then we turn around and support legislation that is clearly designed to give a free pass to predatory credit card lenders; thereby allying ourselves with financial service institutions that think that “responsibility” is a one-way street…it only applies to borrowers, not lenders. It’s not a pretty picture. The credit union movement has built an impressive and influential lobbying machine over the past few years. The power of that influence is diminished when we use it to support the wish list of some of the most irresponsible entities in the financial services sector. This is not to argue that loopholes do not exist in the bankruptcy laws or that some form of bankruptcy reform is not needed. But the notion that the existing problems are exclusively the result of irresponsible borrowers is contradicted by the evidence. By and large, credit unions do an exemplary job of being responsible lenders. This is why there are no statistics to support the argument that abusive bankruptcies are a problem for credit unions. Instead of supporting legislation that gives a free pass to irresponsible lenders, we should be taking the lead on advocating legislation that promotes both responsible borrowing and lending. Trey Dunbar CEO Santa Cruz County Employees Credit Union Santa Cruz, Calif.

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