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While the bankers may have taken a page right out of our playbook by pulling together to combat the growing menace that is the credit union industry, it’s equally apparent that their success is anything but assured. In order to win the battle they’ve chosen, the bankers will ultimately need elected officials to write, debate, and pass new laws; or at the minimum, publicly alter existing code. They can crow about non-elected regulators joining in the chorus for credit union taxation, but these folks are simply influencers, not decision makers. What, really, is the crux of the bankers’ taxation case? Aren’t they essentially arguing that credit unions be forced to give the profits they earn not to their member/owners, but to the government instead? On the surface, this sounds like a no-brainer argument for Congress. It’s not often a legislative body turns down an opportunity to collect and spend more of our money. Still, as a part-time skeptic and full-time realist, I recognize that, in general, our elected officials are decent people who realize their power comes from the people they serve. They also tend to be obsessed with holding on to that power by remaining in office, which requires obsequiousness towards their electorate. Credit unions historically have shown their ability to mobilize voters. While I sincerely doubt the NCUA’s assertion of 80 million credit union members (how many individuals have been counted by multiple credit unions?), the overwhelming response to previous grassroots movements (see H.R. 1151) speaks volumes to legislators’ needs to procure votes. So if the choice for the average Congressperson is between voting to collect more taxes while angering a who-knows-how-large contingency of vocal and angry voters, which way do you think that Congressperson will fall? Those extra funds might be enticing to spend, but one needs votes to remain in office to spend it. Money or votes? As long as our industry remains active and participative at the state and federal levels, and we communicate to the legislature that acting upon the bankers’ demands is tantamount to a tax increase (who will pay these taxes if not their constituents?), then my bet is on the votes. Good luck, bankers. It could be a long road. Jim Kasch Director of Marketing, Alternative Delivery and Business Development Vista FCU Burbank, Calif.

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