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WASHINGTON-Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman Don Powell reiterated his belief that credit unions should be taxed during a speech to America’s Community Bankers Government Affairs Conference. He briefly showcased an advertisement ACB placed in The Hill newspaper and elsewhere, featuring a bright yellow rubber ducky with the usual “quacks like a duck” motto regarding credit unions’ tax exemption. “It’s no secret where I stand on that…they should be paying taxes,” Powell said. He added that bankers are not scared of fair competition, but there must be a level playing field. He also stated that if credit unions are going to get into the business of business lending, they better have a keen understanding of it and have safe and sound underwriting practices. In response to a question from the audience about credit unions getting more involved in business lending, Powell said, “Credit unions are doing more and more of that…I have mixed emotions about it.” He admitted that when he was a banker, he used to send some customers down the street to the credit union for small business loans. During his remarks, the chairman also recommended that the banking industry regain its enthusiasm for deposit insurance reform. “Deposit insurance reform. We’ve lost our passion for that,” he observed. “I’ve learned in Washington D.C., in my short time here, we only react in crisis.” Though FDIC funding is not an issue now, problems with the system still need to be fixed. While coverage is important, he said, some changes are crucial including the merging of the Bank and Savings Association Insurance Funds, the rate cliff, and allowing for risk credits. The issue of raising insurance coverage has been a sticking point with the bill in the legislative process. Powell suggested that the attendees should raise their concerns about deposit insurance reform with their representatives on Capitol Hill. Powell also commended the banking industry on their record profits earning $120 billion in 2003. “If you’re not making money in the banking business in 2003, something’s wrong,” he said. The good times are also the time to clean house, he suggested. Eliminate non-performing directors and personnel, Powell said. [email protected]

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