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Inside Washington (10/02/2009)

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* WASHINGTON (10/5/09)--In a move to put Republicans on the defensive, House Financial Services Committee Chair Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said at a Thursday hearing that the Federal Reserve Board would benefit the most from their opposition to a consumer protection agency. The legislation being pushed by some Democrats would rid the Fed of its consumer protection powers in favor of a separate agency to oversee financial products and services in the market. The Fed has not taken a side on the matter, but it would lose part of its staff if the proposal passes (American Banker Oct. 2). Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) said that Republicans do not oppose taking consumer protection responsibilities from the Fed. Rather, they oppose vesting the consumer protection powers into a new agency, which could limit choice. Bernanke said a more comprehensive approach to regulation is needed, and all federal financial supervisors and regulators should monitor risks in the financial system as part of their oversight responsibilities ... * WASHINGTON (10/5/09)--Jeffrey B. Kindler and James S. Tisch have been elected to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York board as class B directors, the bank announced Thursday. Kindler will serve the unexpired portion of a three-year term until Dec. 31, and Tisch will serve the unexpired portion of a three-year term until Dec. 31, 2010. Kindler is chairman and CEO of Pfizer. Tisch is president/CEO of Loews Corp. The New York Fed board of directors has nine members, three of whom are appointed as Class C directors. The remaining six are Class A and B directors. Class A directors are drawn from the banking community, while Class B and C directors are chosen from outside the business community, and typically represent business, industry, agriculture, labor or consumers ... * WASHINGTON (10/5/09)--National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) board member Michael Fryzel was named Honorary Grand Marshal of the Pulaski Day Parade held in honor of Polish General Casmir Pulaski, on Sunday. Fryzel is the first Polish American to be named to the NCUA board and to serve as chairman. He was presented with a plaque for his dedication and support of the credit union movement and his role int the parade. Fryzel also acknowledged the work by Polish and Slavic FCU in Brooklyn, N.Y. “The credit union exemplifies what credit unions do best, give back to the community and provide the support for all types of events,” he said. “They provide scholarships, support cultural events and continue to serve their members and meet their financial needs. I commend them for their efforts.” From left are: Bodgan Chmielewski, CEO of Polish and Slavic FCU; Curtis Sliwa, CEO of Guardian Angels and grand marshal of the parade; and Fryzel. (Photo provided by the National Credit Union Administration) ... * WASHINGTON (10/5/09)--Staff from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the chairman of CUNA's Accounting Subcommittee, Scott Waite of Patelco CU, San Francisco, recently discussed credit unions' concerns on several current accounting issues--including expansion of the application of fair value when valuing loans and loan-related accounts such as the allowance for loan losses. They also discussed the range of potential difficulties that credit unions could face if the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) makes such changes to fair value accounting standards. During a conference call with FASB Chairman Robert Herz and several senior FASB members, CUNA outlined some of the key differences between financial reporting of credit unions and of other financial institutions. Proposed changes to the fair value rule, which FASB expects to release as an exposure draft in the coming months, are still in development. On the call, CUNA urged Herz to consider the uniqueness of credit unions as the board proceeds through the rulemaking process. One board member asked CUNA representatives how certain exemptions in the rule might affect credit unions. CUNA is encouraged that FASB is at least aware that many smaller institutions, including credit unions, will have difficulty complying with the impending proposed changes to the fair value rule. Although an exact date has not been set, CUNA representatives said that they have been invited to have additional dialogues with the chairman and other members of FASB staff soon. Representing CUNA on the call were Deputy General Counsel and Senior Vice President Mary Dunn and Regulatory Counsel Luke Martone ...

Visa to Congress Ignore merchant interchange claims

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WASHINGTON (10/5/09)--Visa has become the latest financial institution to weigh in on the interchange debate, saying that legislators and the public should not be swayed by the dramatic delivery by 7-Eleven executives of 15,000 booklets of signatures supporting interchange fee reforms. The comments from Visa, reported recently in CardLine, echo the sentiments of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and other members of the electronic payment coalition. According to Visa, the merchants push toward interchange fee legislation is more about retailers looking to take advantage of consumers by having them help shift the burden of business costs onto themselves in the form of surcharges. Changing the current interchange fee structure would limit consumer options, competition and technological innovation, according to CUNA. CardLine cited Visa research which found that 78% of consumers said that the benefits of accepting credit and debit cards outweigh the costs of accepting them for many retailers. A report commissioned by MasterCard found that 80% of people who signed the 7-Eleven petition "mistakenly believed" that consumers would benefit from lower interchange rates. (See related story: MasterCard says 7-Eleven misled consumers on interchange)

CUNA N.M. CUs combine forces for campaign school

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WASHINGTON (10/5/09)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) last week completed the latest in a series of educational endeavors, holding its New Mexico Campaign School 2009 in conjunction with the Credit Union Association of New Mexico. The campaign school, which is the second held in New Mexico, was attended by a number of state legislators. State campaign veteran Doug Turner, who is a candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for governor of New Mexico, served as a presenter during the campaign school.
Click to view larger image CUNA Senior Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose leads campaign school attendees. (CUNA Photo)
CUNA’s Senior Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose and Political Director Trey Hawkins also covered a number of topics during the school, including campaign management, Get-Out-The-Vote targeting, communications and fundraising. Former Democratic Governors Association Deputy Political Director Daniel Sena also appeared as a guest speaker during the one-day event, which was held in Albuquerque. According to Hawkins, the ultimate goal of the campaign schools is to “train future elected officials on how to run professional campaigns and ultimately help elect more credit union members to office.” CUNA’s schools have garnered significant results, with campaign school graduate Betty Ireland moving on to become West Virginia Secretary of State. Other successful campaign school alumni include Sharon Frederick, who was elected to the State of Nevada Board of Education, and Bob Kressig, who was elected to the Iowa State House. CUNA has planned seven more campaign schools for the coming months, and also offers online courses for credit union representatives that are interested in political advocacy.
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