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Which Political Party Best Supports The Credit Union Movement?

Which Political Party Best Supports The Credit Union Movement?

Although the parties may not be specifically aiming to attract the credit union vote, which candidate or party would truly address the concerns and challenges the credit union industry faces?

During the Democrat and Republican conventions last month, Patrick La Pine, president/CEO of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions reported on the vibe and feelings he took away from both the conventions.

“As parties, both sides have been very positive toward credit unions,” La Pine says. “The credit union industry has never really been about working with a Republican or Democrat, rather each individual lawmaker makes up their mind on our issues. We had a very positive response from both parties in relation to our ‘leave behind’ projects at the conventions. As for the negatives, there haven't really been any party-wide negatives. There are members that do not support credit unions or our issues, but that's on an individual basis not directly tied to a party affiliation.”

La Pine adds that as an industry, credit unions don't work closely along party lines. “We work with individual lawmakers. We have members on both sides of the aisle who are our friends, as evidenced by the extremely bipartisan support we've received on issues such as MBL legislation and supplemental capital legislation.”

“We continue to hear from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that the MBL legislation will be brought for a vote before the full Senate,” La Pine continues. “There's been no indication to us that this won't happen, so we continue to operate under the assumption that this will happen.”

“The ATM Fee Disclosure legislation is also still in play,” La Pine adds. “While Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) still has a hold on the current legislation due to its being joined with CFPB privacy legislation, we are hopeful that either his objections can be cleared or they will move the originally filed S. 3204. The House has already passed companion legislation by a vote of 371-0.”

Dan Schline, SVP/Association Services at the North Carolina Credit Union League agrees that party affiliation is not typically taken into account when it comes to credit unions. “Credit union issues tend not to divide members of Congress based on party affiliation. We have Democrats and Republicans that are strong credit unions supporters. These members of Congress, regardless of party, see the value that credit unions deliver to their members.”

Schline adds that the League’s recent participation at the conventions in Tampa and Charlotte was indicative of the way that credit unions approach political involvement. “We were present at both conventions because we value the relationships and support that we get from both political parties and are always willing to work with members of Congress that will support the ability of credit unions to better serve their members.”

Could Green Party Candidate, Dr. Jill Stein Be the Credit Union Dark Horse?

While credit union leagues across the country report seeing no bias one way or another in favor of or against credit unions, one candidate is showing that she fully supports the movement.

Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party Presidential Candidate talked to Credit Unions Online and said that her grassroots, community approach is what the country needs, especially during these dark days.

“We’re all in this together and need an economy that works for everyday people and our communities,” she says. “We need banking institutions like credit unions and state banks in order to accomplish this. It would be very exciting to see how we could push this forward with the right resources on the table and that expanding the capacity of credit unions to loan would be a positive step forward.”

Dr. Stein’s Green New Deal specifically addresses how the country could pull away from a government run by big banking/big business and instead restore the power and resources to the people and communities that can make decisions on a local level with regard to what’s best for its citizens.

The Green New Deal is an emergency program to solve unemployment, ensure a fair wage, take Wall Street out of the driver’s seat and at the same time, make communities sustainable, Dr. Stein explains.

Speaking specifically about the credit union movement, Dr. Stein says that credit unions could play an extremely important role to reviving a sputtering economy. “What we need is to amplify the kind of resources that can come from credit unions,” she says. “We need to jump start worker coops and this is where credit union resources are perfectly suited. The money must be available to be loaned out at low rates so that people who want to start a sustainable community based business can get the credit to do that.”

Raising the member business loan cap from 12.25% to 27.5% of the credit union asset size could free up a reported $13 billion and create 140,000 jobs--at no taxpayer expense.

In May, Amplify Federal Credit Union’s ($604 million, Austin, TX) president/CEO, Paul Trylko wrote in a local newspaper about the member business loan cap saying, “SB 2231 will allow more business owners nationwide to have access to the capital they need to expand their businesses and create jobs. Of course, safeguards and oversight will be put in place to ensure implementation of this increase is handled properly.”

“Credit unions can have an expanded role in helping small businesses,” La Pine says. “By raising the member business lending cap, credit unions can lend more to small business owners and help them create jobs. On a broader scale, credit union issues are not about pitting us against banks; it's about what can we do to help our members and help consumers. If bankers want to continually thwart credit union legislation, even though it will help consumers, we want to point that out to our lawmakers. We are willing to work with the banks on legislation. Credit unions can be part of the solution to getting our economy back on track, if given the opportunity.”

Bank/Credit Union Issues Are Important

Although the credit union platform is not an “us” against “them” stance against big banks, Dr. Stein contends that big banks continue to plague the economic landscape. Part three in Dr. Stein’s New Green Deal she says, “The takeover of our economy by big banks and well-connected financiers has destabilized both our democracy and our economy. It’s time to take Wall Street out of the driver’s seat and to free the truly productive segments of working America to make this economy work for all of us.”

Some actions within this section include breaking up the banks that are “too big to fail,” end taxpayer-funded bailouts for banks, insurers, and other financial companies and regulate all financial derivatives and require them to be traded on open exchanges.

“Under the Green New Deal we will start building a financial system that is open, honest, stable, and serves the real economy rather than the phony economy of high finance,” Dr. Stein writes in her plan.

When asked about how the Democrats or Republicans address big bank issues, La Pine says the Leagues really haven't focused on what will be done to address big bank abuses. “Rather, we continue to focus on what we as credit unions can do to help our country recover from this economic cliff. While we are certainly cognizant of the issues the banks are pushing, our goal is to achieve legislative victories that will benefit credit unions and their 94 million members.”

The decision is yours. Find a credit union near you to learn more about how you can support your pro-credit union candidate of choice.

By Gina Ragusa
Published September 17, 2012
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