Only Ones Talking CU Taxes In DC-Are CUs

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The lack of interest by Congress in passing any of the credit union-backed bills this year has created somewhat of a void for the credit union lobby.

While lawmakers appear disinterested in pushing either of the regulatory relief bills for credit unions, and the bankruptcy reform bill continues to languish near death, the debate appears to be heating up over the credit union tax exemption. But that may be just as much due to CUNA's doing as the banks.

It's not clear whether the daily barrage of rhetoric by CUNA against the banks is strategically aimed at some phantom tax bill or simply a method to keep the troops interested in the legislative process as many credit union executives continue to travel to Washington to lobby their representatives.

But since every credit union lobbyist agrees there is no serious initiative to repeal the credit union tax exemption, one has to wonder at the efficacy of turning up the rhetoric on this issue. With very few exceptions, such as the bluster of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas of California, the tax exemption is not on the radar screen on Capitol Hill. But if CUNA continues to tout it on a daily basis and in all of its publications then lawmakers can't help but take notice.

I'm not so sure it's good strategy to keep waving the tax issue before Congress and the public, especially as the federal budget deficit continues to explode to record levels. But they don't pay me the big bucks to make those decisions.

Meantime, there appears to be little interest in moving the regulatory relief initiatives in the Senate, making it very unlikely that we will see either bill, the overall reg relief bill for all financial institutions or the more narrow CURIA bill for credit unions, passed before the Congress adjourns later this year.

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