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MBLs GAC speakers draw media attention
WASHINGTON (2/26/10)--Comments by key congressional supporters of raising credit unions' member business lending cap that were made during the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) were the focus of a number of media reports this week. Market News International and MarketWatch Wednesday reported on the issue. In the article, "US Rep Says Congress Should Increase Credit Union Lending Cap," Market News International began with Rep. Ed Perlmutter's (D-Colo.) comments at the GAC that Congress needs to support credit unions by raising the lending cap to allow credit unions to help more small businesses. It noted that credit unions currently can lending a maximum of 12.5% of total assets to small businesses and that the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act (H.R. 3380 and S 2919) proposes to raise the cap to 25%. It also noted CUNA estimates the measure would increase lending by $10 billion in the first year and create roughly 100,000 jobs without any cost to the taxpayer. The article also quoted Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), noting the importance of small businesses to the economy, and Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), chairman of the House subcommittee on financial institutions and consumer credit, who said it is very important that the government's attempts at financial reform "don't punish our credit unions." The MarketWatch article reported Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.)'s comments "to a cheering crowd at the credit union conference," that "we look at credit unions who didn't cause the problem, who aren't asking for a bailout or taxpayer money. They are asking for Congress to get out of the way and allow for reasonable sources of capital." MarketWatch also reported Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke arguing that changing credit unions would raise additional questions. When Sherman asked about the legislation, Bernanke told a House committee that credit unions enjoy "tax-favored" status because there are certain restrictions placed on their activities. "The banks would complain obviously that if credit unions are allowed to do everything banks can do, why are they tax favored?" He noted it was a trade-off. Other topics brought up during the GAC also have been addressed in the media. Bloomberg via Business Week (Feb. 25) reported House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) telling the GAC that interchange fees are "not on our agenda this year," reported And Reuters News (Feb. 24) reported that Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) told reporters at the GAC that a financial regulatory reform bipartisan agreement may be reached "soon." The New York Times News Service also reported his comments at the GAC. A number of media also reported comments by Assistant Treasury Secretary Michael Barr about banks benefiting from a Consumer Financial Protection Agency and mentioned he made the comments at CUNA's conference. They included Reuters (Feb. 23), and The New York Times and (Feb. 24). National Credit Union Administration Board member Gigi Hyland's speech at the GAC was reported in Sources World (Feb. 23).
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