I appreciate American Bankers Association Chairman Ken Fergesen’s nod to CUNA for the environment of fairness extended to him at the GAC during his tte-a-tte with Jim Blaine (“Letters,” April 14, 2004) But CUNA does not buy Ken’s “aw shucks, we just wanna be friends with you . less than big . credit unions.” Just like any other community banker among the ABA leadership (and its Community Bankers Council), Ken wants all credit unions to go away. One step at a time, starting with the big guys. Ken is an affable guy – a true gentleman with an easy manner. But do not be mistaken by that Oklahoma charm, he is out to divide and conquer. He wants to do that by arguing that “you credit unions who stick to your knitting (that is, do not offer any services that any modern consumer can readily use) can be our friends. We don’t want to tax y’all.” As for credit unions that offer cutting-edge services that their members not only deserve, but also expect and demand – Ken does not cut them any slack at all. This “new breed of aggressive credit unions,” Ken writes, should be taxed. CUNA, and credit unions, do not accept that. Ken handled himself very well during the GAC debate, under the circumstances. In fact, I have shared that view with the top staff people at the ABA. Then again, Ken was offered (and took) every opportunity at the debate to make his points in a gentlemanly manner. But that doesn’t make him, or the ABA, correct. Credit unions are not tax exempt because of field of membership or service to persons of modest means. Heck, those are just methods credit unions use to reach out to consumers. As the “findings of the Congress” in H.R. 1151 point out, credit unions are tax-exempt because unlike many other participants in the financial services market, (credit unions) are exempt from Federal and most State taxes because they are member-owned, democratically operated, not-for-profit organizations generally managed by volunteer boards of directors and because they have the specified mission of meeting the credit and savings needs of consumers, especially persons of modest means.” Ken just does not get it, despite being Mr. Nice Guy. A tax on credit unions – ANY credit union – is a tax on credit union members. And there’s nothing nice about that. Dan Mica President/CEO Credit Union National Association Washington, D.C.

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