May 23, 2005
To the Editor of Credit Union Journal:
I want to clarify the position of the Independent Community Bankers of America as reported in your May 20 article "Banks to Fight Regulatory Relief for Credit Unions." The ICBA is not fighting regulatory relief for credit unions and is enthusiastically promoting several regulatory relief efforts in Congress and in the regulatory agencies that would also benefit credit unions. Our community bank members are advocating true regulatory relief in the advancement of the "Communities First Act," (H.R. 2061) and support the earnest efforts of Chairman Mike Oxley (R-OH), Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Dennis Moore (D-KS) as well as Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) and others now crafting broad regulatory relief legislation for financial institutions of all types.
However, we cannot support legislation that will further distance the tax-exempt credit union industry from their mission and rationale for their special tax subsidy and special regulatory treatment. Therefore, we must oppose the nonsensically-named "Credit Union Regulatory Improvement Act," (CURIA, H.R. 2317) simply because it is not about regulatory relief nor would it enhance the credit unions' mission of serving people of modest means. One look at the CURIA bill reveals it is a power play to dramatically expand credit union commercial lending powers. Specifically, CURIA would boost the legal ceiling on credit union business loans to 20% of assets, up from 12.25%. Simply put, CURIA is a powers bill, not a regulatory relief bill.
Equating CURIA and regulatory relief is comparing apples and oranges. We cannot support expanded credit union powers disguised as "relief" allowing credit unions to discard their mission and the basis for their current special tax-exempt and regulatory status.
Camden R. Fine
President and CEO
Independent Community Bankers of America
1 Thomas Circle, NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20005