Dear Community Banker,
The new administration and Congress will be searching for tools and solutions to right the economic and financial ship this year. There’s no doubt that 2009 will be fueled by change, controversy and historic firsts. But for better or for worse we’re all in this together—even we community bankers who stuck to our knitting and didn’t make the risky loans that led to the current economic crisis. We should not be penalized for the actions of those who did. Main Street America’s community banks, their customers and their communities should not pay the price for Wall Street’s arrogance, greed and mismanagement. So as community bankers, let's all help Congress and the Administration get this right!
As we begin 2009, ICBA continues our mission—our one and only mission—to promote and protect community banks. We’ve worked tirelessly over the past year promoting and defending your interests, and we won’t be taking a break anytime soon. We realize that this year will be even more challenging than 2008. That’s why we will be working double-time to help you stay competitive. ICBA will continue to highlight the positive role that community banks play within the lives of our nation’s families, small businesses and communities, as well as our overall economy. And we’ll make sure that you have the programs and tools necessary to not only survive, but thrive.
We’re already off to a running start in 2009. We submitted proposals to policymakers that will allow community banks to continue serving Main Street and play a key role in our country’s overall economic recovery. But we’re not stopping there. We will continue to develop and propose new ideas. Ideas to ensure community banks are not forgotten when our policymakers start considering ways to restructure our financial regulatory system and deal with increasing deposit insurance premiums. Ideas for a new system that assesses financial institutions based on their overall systemic risk and for reducing systemic risk by demanding that the very largest conglomerate financial firms be downsized or broken up so that our nation’s taxpayers are never hurt and put on the hook again.
ICBA will make sure that the community banking voice is heard loud and clear. We’ll continue to fight to ensure that community banks receive access to all proposed programs, like the TARP, and will press Treasury to grant Subchapter S corporation banks and mutual institutions access to the program. We’ll also speak out about why no financial institution should be so large that it can cause the collapse of our entire financial and economic system. And while we do have systemic risk institutions, they should pay a “systemic risk” premium for the privilege of absolute government and taxpayer protection. It’s the fair thing to do; it’s the right thing to do.
We will fight and we will prevail. There is no other option. Community banks are the bright spot in all this turmoil. We’re the reason our country is maintaining any economic stability in this time of uncertainty. Community banks are the lifeblood of the cities and towns across America and ICBA will ensure that community banks continue to be vital and healthy for generations to come. I believe this will be community banks’ shining hour. We will prevail and emerge stronger with the continued trust and confidence of our customers and communities.