The recent public exchange between the Wisconsin Bankers Association and the Wisconsin Credit Union League over member business lending sounds a lot like what has been going on in our nation's capital for months. A stalemate between two parties who argue they can do it better, yet no one gets the job done.
The bankers believe credit unions infringe on their business by offering the same products, apparently believing that if you don't have the word bank in your name, you are not qualified to offer financial products and services. And then, of course, they say, if credit unions are taxed, we have no objection to whatever they do.
Credit unions on the other hand say they want more business lending authority so they can reach out to those in need of business loans who cannot get them at a bank. They believe that with greater lending authority they can help the economy.
The credit unions also argue that banks had access to TARP funds and were bailed out with taxpayer money. The bankers respond that it was not a bailout but an investment they repaid with interest and therefore it was a profit-making venture for taxpayers. Is it not interesting how you can spin any story to make it sound the way you want it to sound, two sides, two different views, two conclusions.
So while all this rhetoric and word spinning goes on, who suffers? The same people who are already suffering from the inaction in Washington: the American population.
If credit unions are able to make business loans, it will not be the action that jumpstarts the economy, but it will help people move in that direction. And if we help only a few is that not better than helping no one? With business comes innovation; with innovation comes the potential for greater economic success. And if the bankers feel they can do a better job with business lending, then why just talk about it? Why not go out there and make the loans the business community needs?
Even better, let our credit unions and banks both do the jobs they are supposed to do-help their members and customers. Competition drives change for companies to do better, provide better services and better products at better rates. Stifling competition hinders the whole idea of a free market economy and arguing over who can do better than whom only hinders the process for enhancing or expanding outreach
I for one am tired of hearing, "I can do anything better than you."
Let's pretend we are in Missouri and play "Show Me." Let's see who can do it better with results.
Get out there and make the loans people need. Get out there and help our struggling entrepreneurs. Get out there and do your jobs.
Michael E. Fryzel, Board Member
NCUA, Alexandria, Va.