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Holly Petraeus to join CFPB

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WASHINGTON (1/10/11)--Holly Petraeus, named by the U.S. Treasury last week to head an office of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that would work to bolster the financial literacy of military servicemembers and their families and to protect those families from questionable lending practices, has been a guest on the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) weekly Home & Family Finance Radio show, discussing just such topics. Petraeus is the wife of General David Petraeus and the daughter of a former West Point superintendent. Warren in a blog post on www.whitehouse.gov said that the office will partner with the Department of Defense (DoD) to respond to financial issues raised by military families and will help . The agency will also help federal and state agencies work together to improve consumer protection measures for those same families. “Military families have unique challenges, and now they have a unique advocate to ensure that their special concerns get the attention they deserve,” Warren added. Petraeus previously served as the Director of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Military Line, a joint BBB/DoD project that provides consumer education and advocacy for military families. Petraeus and Warren will hold a town hall-style meeting at San Antonio, Texas’s Lackland Air Force base later this month, Warren said. For audio of Petraeus's segment, use the resource link.

Miracle Network founder John Schneider to speak at GAC

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WASHINGTON (1/10/11)—John Schneider, who first gained notoriety as Bo Duke on TV’s The Dukes of Hazzard and now works extensively on behalf of his charity, Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, will join a growing list of high profile speakers at this year’s Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC). Schneider co-founded Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, which
Click to view larger image John Schneider, co-founder of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals along with Marie Osmond, is shown here with children who have benefitted from the charitable organization’s efforts. To Schneider’s left is Eileen Garrido, daughter of Carlos Garrido, EVP/COO at Schools Federal CU in Southern California. Eileen was a recipient of care at Children’s Hospital LA. (CMNHospitals Photo)
raises funds for 170 childrens hospitals in the U.S., with singer and actress Marie Osmond. Credit unions are top contributors to the network and also work with the network via programs such as Credit Unions for Kids and the annual CU Cherry Blossom 10-mile run. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau architect Elizabeth Warren, House Financial Services Committee chairman Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) are also among those policy makers that are set to speak. The GAC will also feature political pundits and co-authors of The New York Times No. 1 best-seller "Game Change" Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. The GAC will open Sunday evening, Feb. 27 with a performance by classic rockers Three Dog Night, and will also feature a keynote speech Feb. 28 by "Miracle on the Hudson" pilot Captain Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III. The GAC also will feature a political point-counterpoint between conservative commentator Mary Matalin and liberal Web commentator Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post. Additional speakers from Capitol Hill and the regulatory agencies will be announced in coming weeks. To register for this year's GAC, use the resource link.

Dodd-Frank repeal bill mainly symbolic CUNA

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WASHINGTON (1/10/11)—Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) last week introduced H.R. 87, legislation that would repeal the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill that was passed into law last year. Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Todd Akin (R-Mo.), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) and Bill Posey (R-Fla.) signed on as cosponsors of the legislation, which is widely viewed as being a mainly symbolic shot at the Obama administration reforms. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), a key sponsor of the reform bill, as the name implies, spoke up to defend his legislation last week. Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Vice President of Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan said that CUNA does not expect there to be a concerted effort to repeal Dodd-Frank in its entirety. “Having said that, as the various regulatory agencies take the steps to implement the law, we will continue to encourage Congress to exercise oversight over that process,” Donovan added. Also, CUNA is working to address the impact of sections of Dodd-Frank act, for instance the interchange provisions require the Federal Reserve Board to set interchange fees. CUNA recently asked new House Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) to fully review the interchange proposal before the Fed moves forward with implementation.

Inside Washington (01/07/2011)

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* WASHINGTON (1/10/11)--Some lenders have taken issue with the recently released terms of the Small Business Lending Fund (SBLF), saying that restrictions will limit participation in the program (American Banker Jan. 7). The SBLF is a $30 billion fund that encourages lending to small businesses by providing capital to qualified community banks with assets of less than $10 billion. Among the concerns expressed are that the program will not consider Small Business Administration (SBA) loans as small-business lending; that the fund will have volatile interest rates; and that financial institutions will be forced to find matching funds for money they receive through the program. That National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders supported the creation of the fund when President Barack Obama first suggested it last year, but the group pulled its support after learning that SBA 7(a) loans and other government-guaranteed loans would not count as small business loans under the SBLF. Under the terms issued by the Treasury, banks can apply for funds at an initial 5% dividend rate that decreases as they conduct more small-business lending. But if the guaranteed portion of SBA loans does not count, SBA lenders are less likely to take part in the program, according to Tony Wilkinson, president of the association. Wilkinson said this policy discriminates against SBA lenders … * WASHINGTON (1/10/11)--Organizational issues are preventing the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking Committee from holding hearings and carrying out their agendas at the start of the new congressional term (American Banker Jan 7). Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) has been unable to move into the House committee office because it is still occupied by outgoing chairman Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). Bachus also cannot schedule hearings or conduct other committee business because Democrats have yet to organize their subcommittee membership. A House Democrat indicated the caucus might organize within the next week. In the Senate, the Banking Committee cannot convene hearings because Sen. Tim Johnson (R-S.D.) is not expected to be officially named committee chairman until later this month or early February. Also, the panel’s budget has not been determined, hampering Johnson’s ability to hire staff … * WASHINGTON (1/10/11)--In his first testimony before the new Congress, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said there is “increased evidence” that a self-sustaining economic recovery is taking hold. Bernanke said real consumer spending rose at an annual rate of 2.5 % in the third quarter, and available indicators suggest it likely expanded at a somewhat faster pace in the fourth quarter. Businesses also have begun replacing aging equipment after delaying such investments during the downturn. Overall, the pace of economic recovery seems likely to be moderately stronger in 2011 than it was in 2010, according the Fed chairman. He also defended the Federal Reserve’s recent policy of buying government bonds to support the economy, including its intention to purchase an additional $600 billion in Treasury securities by the end of the second quarter. Bernanke also advised Congress of the increased danger of failing to reign in the federal budget deficit. “Diminishing confidence on the part of investors that deficits will be brought under control would likely lead to sharply rising interest rates on government debt and, potentially, to broader financial turmoil,” Bernanke said … * WASHINGTON (1/10/11)--The Small Business Administration (SBA) has unveiled a newly designed website. The new site features the launch of SBA Direct, a new web tool that allows small business visitors to personalize their browsing experience according to their business type, geography and needs. SBA Direct offers information on running a business, including the steps involved in getting started, business growth strategies, and how to stay compliant with current laws and regulations. Visit www.sba.gov … * WASHINGTON (1/10/11)—The National Economic Council will be chaired by Gene Sperling, who was appointed to the position by President Barack Obama late last week. Sperling led the NEC during the late Clinton administration and has worked with the Obama administration as it developed small business and tax policies during the past two years. Obama on Friday called Sperling “a public servant who has devoted his life to making this economy work -– and making it work specifically for middle-class families.” National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Chairman Debbie Matz in 2009 suggested lifting the credit union member business lending cap to Sperling after he requested input on how to spur small business growth…