www.CUNA.org/newsnow (2/16/11) Members of Congress will soon be hearing personally from more than 4,000 credit union representatives as they voice their deep concerns on possible debit interchange fee changes, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney noted Tuesday in The Hill newspaper's online Congress Blog.
Cheney in his blog post told legislators that "credit unions are coming." The throng of more than 4,000 will be one of the largest crowds to ever attend CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), which will take place from Feb. 28 until March 3.
The interchange law and related restrictions proposed by the Federal Reserve will be a focal point of Hill visits, Cheney said. The proposal, which was released earlier this year and remains open for comment until Feb. 22, could cap interchange fees at as low as 7 cents. Cheney in his blog post said that the proposed fee limits will likely force credit unions to charge their members for access to debit card programs. Cheney added that while the Fed proposal does exempt credit unions with under $10 billion in assets from the interchange changes, the new rules will affect how credit unions serve their members, because the law and rules do not give the Fed authority to enforce the exemption.
"But they are also gathering to advocate for credit union members -- to protect them from rising costs, to allow the financial institutions they own build more capital, to help them help the economy recover and grow -- and to ensure that their credit unions are around to serve them for a long, long time." -- Bill Cheney
Another key focus of credit union advocacy during the GAC will be the positive benefits of the federal tax exemption for credit unions. The tax exemption is central to the structure of individual credit unions and the larger credit union system, and its loss would likely mean the demise of most credit unions, which Cheney called a huge loss to consumers.
Credit union backers will also speak in support of changing current supplemental capital rules. Allowing credit unions to raise supplemental capital would help them more effectively meet any unexpected changes, such as a slow economic recovery, Cheney said in his blog post. The ongoing economic recovery could also be helped by giving credit unions greater authority over member business lending. Raising the current 12.25% of assets cap on member business lending to 27.5% of assets will add over $10 billion in new funds into the economy and create over 100,000 new jobs, and credit union supporters will tout these benefits during the GAC.
Credit union representatives will also advocate for the rights of their members, working to protect those members from rising costs and to ensure that credit union members will have access to their institutions for a long time to come, Cheney added.
"The overall message they will deliver: Credit unions are the consumers' best option for conducting financial services," Cheney said.