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Consumers write CUNA Nearing point of bank revolt
MADISON, Wis. (12/16/09)--Consumers are writing the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) to vent against banks' actions and policies, and some are mentioning the word "revolt." In a meeting Monday, several large banks were taken to task by President Barack Obama about their reluctance to make loans and help the economy and their opposition to regulatory reforms. That prompted several letters Tuesday to News Now. "I wonder if you have made any discoveries of people revolting against any of these banks that pay these huge salaries and/or bonus packages?" asked Mel Eaglin of San Diego, in an e-mail to CUNA. "If for no other reason, I would automatically move my money from any of these banks. I've encouraged others to do the same," Eaglin told News Now. "If enough depositors move their accounts (savings and checking) elsewhere, then banks could quickly be undercapitalized. Just an idea," Eaglin concluded. In another e-mail, a member of Arizona FCU, Phoenix asks "What is the credit union movement's response to Obama's call to the banking industry?" The member said he has "used credit unions exclusively for my personal financial needs since 2002. I believe the credit union movement, and its member-ownership business model, is the only alternative to the profit-driven and very non-consumer center commercial banking industry. He noted the president in the meeting "issued a call to the banking industry to remember the aid given to that industry by the American people by way of the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) program, and give assistance to the 'Main Street' consumer by increasing lending activity; by doing so, the banking industry would be of great help in the economic recovery," the Arizona FCU member wrote. "No mention was made of the role that credit unions play in America's consumer financial network [at the president's meeting]. No mention was made in news reports I saw about the credit union movement being represented in this meeting by either executives or member-owners. I find that disappointing and troubling," the member said. "What is the response of CUNA to the president's call for greater response and accountability from the commercial banking sector? How have America's credit unions been impacted by the economic difficulties of the past couple of years, and how are America's credit unions helping in the economic recovery? Why are credit unions still a better value for the consumer than commercial banks, and how is the credit union movement spreading that message?" he asked. CUNA has pointed out to Obama that credit unions are in fact lending to business and could be doing much more. CUNA President Dan Mica noted that credit unions could pump more than $10 billion into the economy and create more than 108,000 jobs if Congress would agree to expand their capacity to make business loans. However, he said Monday, "The very people who met with the president today are the same people who oppose allowing credit unions to help." He noted the "absolute unconscionable" actions of bankers who "would block credit unions from helping the nation, while simultaneously being rebuked by the president for not doing enough to help. "Were we in the room, the president could have easily pointed to us and said, 'These guys want to help--why can you be more like them?" Mica said (News Now Dec. 15). The words brought another writer's comments: "Hooray for speaking out re: (the) omission from Obama bank meeting. How blind can they be?" said Mary A. Sommerville, a contractor and Army G-4 publications manager. Sommerville told News Now in a separate e-mail. "I am a long-timer user and believer in credit unions, which have probably done more for the economy and private citizens than banks. I hope the omission by the president was not intentional but lack of good advice."
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