A Big Question, A Final Statement, A Great Answer

CUNA is just a week away from hosting approximately 4,000 people at its annual Governmental Affairs Conference, where there will be lots of talk about government and likely a few affairs. Which will ultimately prove more productive for credit unions usually depends on the activity in which you were more involved.

As noted in this space a few weeks back, an eight-decade-old issue has, I suppose not so surprisingly given that this is Washington, dusted itself off, stretched its creaky bones, and stepped back into the limelight: the credit union tax exemption. The argument over the tax exemption is the 17-Year Locust of debates: just when you've forgotten all about it, it emerges from hibernation in a great cacophony, before going underground again.

Those locusts are chewing the flowers off what has become the annual cherry-blossom issue at GAC: expanded member business lending. Remember that? It's back on the agenda, right where it's been for the past 15 years or so. As CUNA CEO Bill Cheney recently noted in remarks before a CU audience, when it comes to expanded MBL "we got very close in the last Congress, but close doesn't count."

It doesn't count. What counts in Congress are two things: votes and dollars. Credit unions have votes, the banking lobby has dollars. I'm not quite sure this is what the framers had in mind when talking of checks and balances, but it is what we have.

Cheney said he met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on the issue of MBL and Reid said, "Are we ever going to get this done?" Cheney said he responded, "That's interesting, because I was going to ask you the same thing."

That discussion is representative of the larger question America itself has for Congress: When is anything going to get done? And America keeps asking this question in the face of a great irony: We The People agree that little good ever seems to come out of Congress and that what we really want is "less" while also insisting the same body do "more." No wonder there's gridlock.


Editorial Restoration Plan

* I have been issued a Letter of Misunderstanding and Agreement, been told a recent observation deserves a CAMEL 6 rating, and, heck, maybe even put on That No Flies list. In the Feb. 4 issue I had noted two recent examples in which the former CEOs of a failed corporate and a failed natural-person CU had, respectively, each gotten multi-million dollar payouts while leaving other credit unions to pay the hefty tab they left behind. I had further called on NCUA to implement rules that would allow for a clawback in such scenarios.

While it's apparently too late in the two aforementioned cases, I was mistaken not to note that the NCUA Board on Nov. 17, 2011 did in fact finalize a rule that, moving forward, would ban golden parachutes for officials at troubled credit unions, and has also since clarified the definition of "troubled" for state-chartered CUs, too.

So it appears the only one who remains "troubled" is myself. Please note I'm currently filling out all the paperwork for a personal restoration plan.


Boarding Sass

Every great once in a while you hear a retort that deserves to be shared.

While flying recently, a gentleman one row ahead of me, who was seated in the bulkhead row and had an empty seat next to him mentioned approximately four-dozen times to all around him that he hoped the seat would remain empty, because his son was "6'5" and jammed in a coach seat about 12 rows back. When another man finally boarded and took that empty bulkhead seat, he repeated the whole story all over again about how he had hoped the seat would be vacant so his poor, tall son could move up and get the extra legroom. He even hinted that maybe the other passenger and his son could switch seats.

To which the gentleman who took the seat responded, "Then why don't you give him your seat?"

Frank J. Diekmann can be reached at fdiekmann@cujournal.com.



Ready. Set. Grow!

It's back by more than just popular demand; it's back by necessity.

Credit Union Journal is proud to announce we will again be hosting our popular Grow Show May 30-31 in Orlando.

Grow Show is about exactly what the name implies: growth strategies. It isn't about theories or consultants sharing blue-sky visions. And you won't find big-name or famous keynote speakers. Instead, Credit Union Journal's Grow Show has earned a strong reputation for providing ground-level view perspectives from credit unions that have driven growth across the enterprise. Lending. New members. Effective onboarding. Awareness. And so much more.

We can promise you'll leave with numerous takeaways that will make for solid ROI on the cost of attendance. And while the meeting is at the fine Ritz Carlton Hotel, it comes with a credit union price: just $159 a night.

We look forward to having you join us at Grow Show.