To the Editor:

Sen. Phil Gramm is correct, as is Kenneth Thomas, in strongly advocating full sunshine for all CRA agreements in the recent Viewpoints letters [“Gramm: Why Do Activists Object to Public Scrutiny?” and “CRA Policy Must Not Consider Just the Activist’s View,” page 12, Feb. 9].

But each, perhaps for different reasons, ignores the fact that the community, bank, and local government complaints about the sunshine regulations are about a bureaucratic and onerous grant reporting system that violates First Amendment free speech policies and is wholly unrelated to disclosing the terms of CRA agreements.

As the Greenlining Institute has contended since 1988, or 10 years before Sen. Gramm’s sunshine proposal, CRA agreements must and should be disclosed.

As to Mr. Thomas’ theoretical view of the CRA’s being color-blind, it is not very different from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ view of affirmative action. Unfortunately, 90% of discriminatory banking policies and practices have been directed against racial/ethnic minorities.

Thus, a color-blind CRA will do little, if anything, to address the key societal problem involved in bank lending practices. In fact, promoting color-blind policies before discrimination is terminated may help hide the problem from regulators and enable some to falsely trumpet hollow achievements.

Perhaps this is why some progressive financial institutions, such as Washington Mutual and Wells Fargo, continue to promote modification of “Reg B” in order to allow banks to collect small-business lending data by race, ethnicity, and gender.

Robert Gnaizda,
Policy director,
Greenlining Institute,
San Francisco

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