NAFCU Goes Negative Too, In Banker Battles

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TORONTO – NAFCU announced a major shift in its political strategy last week and began attacking the bankers, following a similar shift by CUNA in recent months. NAFCU helped convince Rep. Bernard Sanders of Vermont to ask for a government study of the trends and developments in the banking industry, including how the banks and thrifts have benefitted from a variety of tax breaks, federal subsidies and tax avoidance measures. “I suspect that the study will show the banking and thrift industries are doing quite well, earning tidy sums for their executives and directors, while enjoying government aid and tax breaks that dwarf the benefits credit unions receive,” NAFCU President Fred Becker said during last week’s annual convention, in acknowledging the new lobbying strategy. Credit unions have traditionally refrained from attacking the banks or criticizing bank initiatives, so as to convince Congress that they are pursuing the high road in their own lobbying. But recently, CUNA signaled a switch in that strategy, first by petitioning the Federal Reserve to reject a takeover by of Texas-based Amegys Bancorp by Zions First Bank, headed by chief credit union nemesis Harris Simmons; then by urging a government study of the Office of Thrift Supervision; then by threatening to pull its support from the pending regulatory relief bill if the thrifts win a provision to increase their business lending.

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