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WASHINGTON – Three major banking trade associations recently announced the establishment of the Inter-Trade Credit Union Coordinating Council to unite their efforts against credit unions. The American Bankers Association, America’s Community Bankers and the Independent Community Bankers of America have decided to establish a united front to strip `bank-like’ credit unions of their tax exemption – a move straight out of the credit union playbook. The council will facilitate communication and coordinate the three groups’ efforts to tax credit unions, draw attention to their exemption from the Community Reinvestment Act requirements, and their proposals to expand credit union powers and fields of membership. “Influential leaders are beginning to talk about the elephant in the room,” ABA Chairman Ken Fergeson, chairman of NbanC, Altus, Okla., said. “Namely, aggressive credit unions that are trying to blend in with the furniture while gobbling up the hors d’oeuvres at taxpayers’ expense.” “Leveling the playing field with bank-like credit unions is a priority for all three trade groups and our community bank members across the country,” ACB Chairman William W. Zuppe said. “We believe it is critical for us to better coordinate and communicate a clear and cogent message to legislators: `Credit unions that want to play like banks, should pay like banks.’” Zuppe is chairman and CEO of Sterling Savings Bank, Spokane, Wash. “As to the matter of unfair credit union competition, it is imperative that all national banking associations work together for the common good of the industry,” ICBA Chairman Dale L. Leighty said. “By coordinating our efforts, we will stand united before the Congress and the Administration on this critical long-term issue.” Leighty is also chairman and president of First National Bank of Las Animas, Las Animas, Colo. The bankers say they are making progress considering comments from the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman Don Powell. That is what the bankers have to say, what about the credit union groups? “This new alliance is a clear indication that the bankers are resolved to make something happen-whether or not they have the complete support of their industry,” CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica said. “To that end, we take this as a sign that the banking trade groups are going to continue their behavior of recklessly attacking credit unions, despite the facts that they have made record profits, continue to enjoy unequaled prosperity and dominate the financial services market. Just as assuredly, credit unions must be prepared to defend themselves-and we will be.” NAFCU Communications Manager John Zimmerman commented, “Whether individually or together, the outcome will be the same as far as banks trying to push punitive legislation against credit unions. The only thing that credit unions do aggressively is pursue member service.” [email protected]

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