I’ve represented consumers for 20 years in Washington, D.C. On television or radio my answer to the question “What’s the best bank?” is always “Bank at a credit union, not at a bank.” In the late 1990s, my organization, U.S. PIRG, joined the Consumer Federation of America in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court and then in lobbying Congress in favor of preserving strong credit union field of membership rules.

But for that entire twenty years I have wondered: Why do the credit unions line up with the banks on every legislative and regulatory issue? Aren’t the credit unions member-owned alternatives to banks? Shouldn’t they be better? I sometimes wonder whether, after the savings and loan collapse of the 1980s, credit union management was taken over by former S&L executives.

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