Timing is everything.
Our 2012 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) comes along a bit later this year. Typically in late February, we're meeting in late March this year.
We think this date change is perfectly timed to encourage congressional action, particularly to give credit unions the authority to make more business loans to their members.
CUNA estimates doing so would permit credit unions to lend an additional $13 billion to small businesses in the first year after enactment of the legislation, helping credit unions create 140,000 new jobs at no cost to taxpayers.
And the timing for that couldn’t be better, either.
While the unemployment rate across the nation has, mercifully, trended downward recently, there remains great concern that long-term unemployment numbers have remained virtually unchanged.
The reason behind those stagnant numbers is the lack of jobs, according to econo
mists at the San Francisco Federal Reserve. The economists compared the number of unemployed with the number of job openings in the U.S. and found a “severe and persistent weakness in aggregate demand for labor.” In other words, the number of jobs available and the number of unemployed just don’t match.
That’s where expanded credit union business lending—creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs—could make a profound contribution to the country’s economic recovery.
You can be sure that CUNA and the leagues have been sharing that view with members of Congress. Others have, as well. Here’s a rundown of some of them:
Certainly there are other pressing issues for credit unions: supplemental capital, housing finance reform, and, of course, preservation of the credit union tax exemption. These issues remain of deep concern to us.
But the time for action on member business lending (MBL) is now—with a window of opportunity in Congress (before the presidential election campaign obscures everything in the political space), with the voices of supporters in the business community joining us, with the reality of the economy all around us, and with thousands of credit union activists in Washington, D.C., this week at the GAC.
If we succeed, we can give credit unions more flexibility to better serve their members—for a long time to come.
The timing is always good for accomplishing that.
BILL CHENEY is CUNA’s president/CEO.