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Responding to the recent rhetoric coming from the ABA, I’d like to submit my “two cents” to the on-going debate on the tax-exempt status of credit unions and the NCUA’s commitment to serving all credit union members. The very first credit unions served whole communities, mostly agrarian, and only much later served employer groups with “borders.” At this point, if the bankers had any genuine concern for customers and the welfare of the general public, they would not want to put any insured financial institutions in such a restricted position as to make them financially vulnerable to failure. And if Virginia Dean, the former director-communications for the American Bankers Association can recall “Leave it to Beaver,” she might also be able to understand the history of banking, where banks started with just deposits and loans and, surprise-surprise, credit unions started with deposits and loans. Credit unions have always looked like banks – or perhaps I should say that banks have always looked like credit unions. The difference is the credit union not-for-profit structure that the banks don’t seem to want to talk about. Banks certainly don’t want to become credit unions and bank top execs don’t want to work for credit unions. Why? Because they own the bank and they wouldn’t be able to own a credit union. Yes, mutual savings banks used to be tax-exempt and lost that status, but what Ms. Dean conveniently leaves out is the fact that the banks mounted a massive, big bucks lobbying attack that finally succeeded in crippling the mutuals and taking away that tax exemption. I would bet my bank stock, if I had it, that if credit unions were taxed tomorrow, Ms. Dean and other big bucks bankers would just move to other ways of restricting and crippling credit unions to the point where credit union capital would have choice but to move from credit unions to banks and then to bankers’ pockets. Finally in response to Keith Leggett’s tirade, the NCUA does get it. They want credit unions to be safe and sound, and that means financially viable. And they also want all Americans to be able to join a credit union. Not just some Americans. OK, maybe that’s three cents, but just once I’d like to see a banker be honest about this subject. Bob Street President/CEO American First CU La Habra, Calif.

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