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Senate hearing signals bankruptcy interest

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WASHINGTON (12/2/08)—The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a field hearing Thursday on “Credit Cards and Bankruptcy: Opportunities for Reform.” The hearing will be conducted at Rhode Island College in Providence and will feature a panel of the following four witnesses:
* John Rao, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center; * U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Thomas Small, from the eastern district of North Carolina; * Robert Lawless, a professor of law from the University of Illinois; and * Associate Professor of Law John Chung, from Roger Williams University.
Ryan Donovan, vice president of legislative affairs for the Credit Union National Association, said the hearing can be viewed as a harbinger of things to come in the 111th U.S. Congress. “We fully anticipate Congress will take a very close look at the bankruptcy code. While the focus of the bankruptcy discussion in Congress most recently has revolved around mortgage cramdown proposals, this hearing and others indicate there may be an appetite to go further in the new Congress,” Donovan said. In October the Judiciary panel conducted a two-part field hearing titled “Keeping Families in Their Home: How to Prevent Foreclosures” in Pennsylvania. Part I was held in Pittsburgh, Part II in Philadelphia.

CUNA CUs raised record 4 million for CULAC

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WASHINGTON (12/2/08)—Credit union political fundraising hit a significant milestone in the 2007-2008 election cycle, raising a record $4 million through the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA’s) Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC). CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica said the achievement places credit unions in the “upper-tier, elite echelon of political action across the nation.” He said the milestone should make credit unions “proud and confident for their future.” Mica noted that CULAC is among about 4,000 political action campaigns (PACs) nationally, and most of those target a small number of key congressional election races. “But, because of the hard work and generosity of credit unions and the leagues, we have the capability to be involved in nearly all races, and still put to use important, proven tools such as independent expenditures (IE),” Mica said of CULAC’s far-reaching effort. He added that less than one percent of all PACs nationwide that have the ability to support a candidate with an IE. “We are fortunate to be one of them,” Mica said. Federal regulations dictate that IEs must be made independently, with no coordination between the contributor and a candidates' campaign camp. The money is used for such things as independent advertising and mailings in support of a candidate. Mica identified the following key points as among those that led to the success of the last election cycle:
*Fundraising continues to be driven by growth in payroll deduction, a program in place only since 2005. As of Oct. 31, more than 2,800 employees at 113 credit unions, 22 state leagues, and CUNA were contributing to CULAC; *CULAC distributed more than $2.9 million in contributions this cycle to federal candidates and committees, and participated in 8% of the 470 U.S. House and Senate races on the November ballot; *CULAC spent a record $528,000 in IEs in three races, one of which resulted in the defeat of an anti-credit union incumbent by credit union friend and Kansas State Treasurer Lynn Jenkins; *More than 92% of CULAC-supported House and Senate candidates won election in the November elections; *CULAC ranked 14th among all federal PACs in direct candidate contributions, and 6th among trade association PACs. The partisan breakdown (52% to Democrats and 48% to Republicans) was tied with only one other organization as the most bipartisan among the nation’s 20 largest PACs, based on figures provided by the Center for Responsive Politics).
Mica also noted that CULAC has always relied on grassroots, with an average contribution of just about $26.

inside Washington (12/01/2008)

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* WASHINGTON (12/2/08)—Credit Union National Association (CUNA)
CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica appeared live Monday on FOX Business TV. (Photo provided by CUNA)
President/CEO Dan Mica was among those that Fox Business Network tapped yesterday for reaction to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's comments on the economy. In a live interview Monday with Fox Business News right after Bernanke concluded his remarks and Q&A session, Mica said the Fed chairman's comments reinforced what the country already knows--that the economy is troubled. “I represent Main Street and you didn’t have to wait until today for an official declaration of a recession. People out there have known for months…that we were having severe problems. People also know that it is going to be very tough next year. There isn’t a small business on Main Street looking forward to the next year with any joy or glee.” Mica also predicted a busy 2009 in the U.S. Congress as federal lawmakers parse the government’s actions in response to the financial meltdown. “There will be hearings, there will be regulations, and there will be blame,” the CUNA leader said... * WASHINGTON (12/2/08)—The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said last week it would begin to speed up the eligibility process to bid on assets of failed banks by using a less exhaustive review process. It may also start issuing conditional approval for deposit insurance so more interested parties can become eligible to offer bids for failing institutions .(American Banker Dec. 1)... * WASHINGTON (12/2/08)—The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) has started to force some banks to adopt its systemic loan modification program to the dismay of some bankers and relief of some consumer advocates. The FDIC stipulated recently that plans of Citigroup Inc. and U.S. Bancorp to buy assets of two failed California thrifts would get the government’s backstop only if they agreed to adopt the FDIC’s plan. (American Banker Dec. 1)…