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CUNA's Tax Status Advocacy Toolkit Empowers CUs To Tell Their Member-Value Stories

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WASHINGTON (3/7/13)--More tools were added to the Credit Union National Association's Tax Status Advocacy Toolkit this week. Three newsletter articles to help credit unions talk to their members about the value of credit union membership are now  available in the ever-growing arsenal.

"Our research shows that when members understand the value of membership, they will stand with us to defend the exemption," CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney said when announcing the toolkit created by CUNA and the state credit union leagues.

CUNA Executive Vice President of Strategic Communications and Engagement Paul Gentile emphasizes, "We can't assume members understand the value proposition of credit union membership. We must work collaboratively to communicate it to them.

"CUNA is providing credit unions the tools to take the 'value' message to its membership.  Like all good communication efforts, we need to be consistent in continuing to tell our good story."

The coordinated communications effort, supported by the tax toolkit, are reflected in two key CUNA initiatives: a recently announced vision rollout and CUNA's top legislative priority this year for preserving the tax exemption.

CUNA and the leagues have issued a call for credit unions to rally and "Unite for Good" to help create a nation in which "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner."

The focus of "Unite for Good" is to bring credit union leaders toward shared goals that advance credit unions toward a common vision.  CUNA is urging credit unions to find the best way of doing this in their own communities through earned media, social media, civic organizations or state and local cooperative ad campaigns.

Regarding the tax issue, CUNA members can use the resource link below to access the Tax Status Advocacy Toolkit.

The newly added newsletter articles form a Credit Unions 101 series. The topics are "Better Rates, Lower Fees," "Member-Owned and Community-Centric," and "Our Unique Non-Profit Structure."

In addition to the newsletter articles, the site provides radio and print ads, credit union data, state-level updates on tax issues, member communications pieces, and much more.

House Subcommittee Hears Analysis Of GSEs' Housing Role

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WASHINGTON (3/7/13)--The House Financial Services subcommittee on capital markets and government-sponsored enterprises (GSE) proceeded with its study of government housing policy Wednesday even though Washington, D.C. was all but shut down due to a winter storm emergency.

Although the hearing was titled "Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: How Government Housing Policy Failed Homeowners and Taxpayers and Led to the Financial Crisis," witnesses seemed to agree to varying degrees that the two government-sponsored housing enterprises did play a role in contributing to the housing crisis and financial meltdown. However, their outlook and proposals for GSE reform varied.

As witness Susan Wachter put it in her testimony, the GSEs contributed to the crisis and were "part of the irresponsible expansion of credit" both before and after 2007. However, she said other entities were "far more responsible for the riskiest product originated and securitized."  Wachter is the Richard B. Worley Professor of Financial Management, Professor of Real Estate and Finance, and Co-Director, Institute for Urban Research, for The Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania.

"There is, in fact, a simple way to measure the success or failure of the GSEs, relative to other entities. All we have to do is examine default rates. The GSEs' delinquency rates were far below those of non-GSE securitized loans," Wachter said.

John Ligon, policy analyst for the Center for Data Analysis of The Heritage Foundation, said the GSEs should go back to how they did business prior to the 1990s. In fact, he said, the relaxation of lending standards in the U.S. mortgage market overall "started in earnest" in the 1990s.

Lawrence White, the Robert Kavesh Professor of Economics, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, of New York University, said there are two lessons to be learned from the experience of Fannie and Freddie, which now operate under conservatorship under their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

First, White said, the federal government should learn to be extremely wary of situations where the financial markets assume that the U.S. Treasury will come to the rescue of a financial institution's creditors. Second, he added, "large systemic financial institutions--in this case, involved with residential housing finance--must be subject to rigorous prudential regulation, with high capital requirements at the center of this regulation. Anything less is an invitation to a repeat of this costly experience."

Josh Rosner, managing director of Graham Fisher & Co., the fourth witness at the hearing, said the country's financial collapse likely would not have been avoided even if the if the GSE's followed "more responsible" housing policies during the time.

Credit unions were not mentioned in the hearing testimony.
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