The banking lobby has proposed "compromise" credit union legislation that would divide credit unions into categories and impose bank-like taxation and other requirements on certain categories.

This is not a compromise at all. A compromise is defined by mutual concessions, and the bankers are not offering credit unions anything. Call this by its right name; call it greedy, outrageous, and a slap in the face to millions of American consumers - but don't call it a compromise.

What affects one credit union affects all credit unions, no matter what their charter or membership base. This is true on a philosophical level: All credit unions exist to serve their members.

It is also true on a practical level. The banking lobby's attacks on multi-group credit unions is an attack, ultimately, on the stability of the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (the federal fund that insures credit union savings), which is the linchpin in the stability of the entire credit union system. Credit unions understand that, which is why they pulled together to establish and support the Credit Union Campaign for Consumer Choice.

The banking lobby understands it, too, which is why they are now trying this bait-and-switch tactic. By seeking to fragment the credit union community and shifting the focus to the issue of taxation, bankers clearly hope to divide and conquer yet another segment of the financial market.

Best of all, no doubt, would be the conversion of large numbers of credit unions to savings banks, which would allow the banking industry to attack and devour them the same way they have attacked and devoured the savings and loan industry.

We've got news for you: American consumers are not going to be interested in a "compromise" like that. Credit unions have never cost the American taxpayer a single penny in bailout money. Seventy million member- owners are well served by their not-for-profit credit unions.

Here's an additional message to the banking lobby: Stick to the subject at hand, which is field of membership. If you're so worried about competition from credit unions, try the old-fashioned marketplace approach and lower those fees that consumers detest so much. But please, stop this nonsense about offering "compromises."

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