WASINGTON (3/11/15)--Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) lavished praise upon the credit union system during his speech at CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference Tuesday, and urged those in attendance to increase their advocacy efforts. Sanders, the ranking member of the Senate Committee on the Budget, said credit unions are an integral part of their communities, due to their work with homeowners, small businesses and working families.
|Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) praises credit unions leaders attending CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference for their advocacy efforts and urged them to increase those efforts in the years to come. (CUNA Photo)|
"It is my belief, and I believe it is yours, that credit unions have the potential to be an even more important economic, social and political force in our country in the decades ahead," he said. "I look forward to working with you to make that a reality."
He added that while banks are busy working Capitol Hill to attack credit unions' tax status, he would oppose those efforts as much as possible.
"Let me tell you, as the United States senator from Vermont, I will do everything I can to oppose those efforts," he said. "As all of you know, credit unions are tax exempt for a good reason, and not because anyone is doing them a special favor."
Sanders kept up the heat on banks, chiding them for being too big to fail and for accepting taxpayer bailout money, while continuing to attack credit unions' tax status.
"Unlike our friends on Wall Street who receive billions of dollars in bonuses ... I am not aware of a single credit union executive who was awarded a multimillion bonus for making risky bets on Wall Street, instead of investing in a job-creating productive economy," he said.
When it comes to member business lending (MBL), Sanders said he is "strongly supportive" of legislation to raise the MBL cap to 27.5% of assets, up from 12.25%. CUNA's analysis of a bill to raise the cap, as long as certain conditions are met, estimates credit unions could lend an additional $14 billion to small businesses, creating 150,000 new jobs.
"Allowing credit unions to increase loans to small business is essential to creating good paying jobs in our country," he said.
While he praised credit unions for their numerous contributions to their members and the economy, he also had a simpler message for those in attendance, and those who are a part of the credit union system as a whole.
"You are part of the community, you work for the community, that is your mission and that is what you do extremely well," he said. "Thank you for that."