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PALM DESERT, Calif.-The American Bankers Association has launched what was termed “a major, long-term initiative to educate bank employees, directors, customers and government representatives about the inequitable tax treatment of large credit unions” in the ABA Banker News. During ABA’s National Conference for Community Bankers, Community Bankers Council Vice Chairman Austin Roberts announced `Operation Credit Union.’ First National Bank of Waverly (Iowa) President and CEO Jeff Plagge noted that ABA Chairman Ken Fergeson did very well in the debate against State Employees Credit Union CEO Jim Blaine at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference. According to ABA Banker News, the effort was crucial to emphasizing the tax advantage of large credit unions. ABA conference attendees were encouraged to fill out commitment sheets, pledging to participate in a long-term grassroots effort for tax equality and regulatory treatment. ABA has resource kits and supporting materials available for those who sign up, ABA Banker News reported. The community bankers greeted the news with a standing ovation. Upon hearing the news, CUNA quickly turned around a statement saying the program does not stand a chance. “A recent national survey conducted by CUNA shows that 73% of credit union members are much more likely to side with their credit union over a bank if a disagreement over legislation breaks out in Congress between banks and credit unions,” CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica said in a statement. “In fact, 22% of bank customers said they, too, likely would side with credit unions.” In addition, Mica pointed out that CUNA will let lawmakers know about the 50 million credit union members it has identified through Project Zip Code. “Clearly, the banks are smarting over Treasury Secretary [John] Snow’s remarks this week that the Bush Administration opposes taxation of credit unions,” Mica said. “The banks just do not get it; members love their credit unions because credit unions are in business to serve their members, not maximize profits.” [email protected]

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