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If we want to put an end to the credit union movement, we should accept TARP funds from the government. Anyone that suggests such a transaction is not thinking through all of the consequences and is trying to take the easy way out. We need to be responsible and fix our own problems. We can not transfer our issues to the American taxpayer.TARP funds are not approved for credit unions, and I think this is a good thing. We need to stop wasting our time and energy to be on the approved TARP list. I don’t believe it benefits any of us to be side-by-side with the bankers on the TARP loser list.Additionally, how can tax-exempt organizations accept taxpayer funds and not seriously jeopardize their tax-exempt status? The banker associations would eat us alive, and it would be impossible to defend our tax-exemption.TARP funds are a loan from the government in exchange for partial ownership, and our problems would not go away as we would ultimately have to pay the TARP funds back with interest at 5% to 9%. The credit union system has much lower cost liquidity to pay for our shortcomings rather than borrow from the taxpayer.We must remember that we are a pure organization, meaning U.S. Central and the corporates derive almost all of their income from the credit union system. So if the corporates took TARP funds to temporarily plug the holes-the credit union system is still 100% responsible for paying back the taxpayers as well as compromising our tax exemption.If we lose our tax-exempt status, we would essentially become little banks. We would probably share the same regulator, and most credit unions would be merged out of existence. Our leagues and CUNA would be out of business.Let’s turn this into a positive. The public is outraged and fed up with this whole economic mess and countless bailouts. Now is time for credit unions to stand apart from the greedy world, take responsibility and clean up our own mess. We’ve got an opportunity to be part of the solution.As we take care of our own problems, it would be the perfect time to go on the offensive and get Congress to pass some real legislation for credit unions, such as eliminating FOM restrictions, eliminating business lending limits, allowing secondary capital and restructuring the corporate system. Let’s call this bill Credit Unions-Lending America a Hand. Credit unions are positioned to benefit all American consumers and the economy if only permitted. Also, the banker rhetoric opposing the bill should be minimized as they’ve got plenty of their own problems, and they have no credibility left with the American public.C’mon CUNA and NAFCU-let’s get it done! We want to serve our members and serve America!

Peter Westerman

Credit Union Times

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