group representatives from 35 states to Washington this week to demand that Congress back off. He said lawmakers must kill a proposal to stick banks with a $12 billion charge for bailing out the thrift insurance fund, and drop a measure barring new bank insurance powers. In an interview Wednesday, Mr. Beverage said either measure would crimp bank profits - not to mention jeopardize the industry's continued support for Republican lawmakers. First of all, the $12 billion obligation is going to hit bank employees and stockholders squarely in the pocketbook, he said. "It's coming out of employee benefits, salaries, and shareholder dividends," said Mr. Beverage, who leads the American Bankers Association's state association division. Secondly, the insurance moratorium would shut banks out of this lucrative field, further squeezing profits. Bankers in Oklahoma and elsewhere will remember that Republicans shafted them on both proposals, according to Mr. Beverage, adding that bankers may back pro-business Democrats during the next election. "You'll make 17,000 people in the state of Oklahoma angry because they didn't get a raise, or their benefits are being cut, or their shareholders didn't get dividends," he said. "This will be the shortest Republican revolution in history." Mr. Beverage brings some real life experience to his job that few can match. A banking attorney by trade, he took over an insurance agency in Nebraska from his father-in-law during the 1980s. He competed head-to-head against the local bank, and won. The experience left him convinced that the insurance agents are all hot air when they argue that banks will obliterate their livelihoods. "It's bull to say that banks are going to eat you alive," he said. "I competed against the local bank. I fed my family. I put my kids through college." Despite the insurance experience, Mr. Beverage has managed to hop around the banking industry, assuming leadership positions in both the Nebraska and Oklahoma trade groups. He also has some regulatory experience under his belt, serving from 1984 to 1985 as director of Nebraska's Department of Banking and Finance. Mr. Beverage said he is still confident bankers can turn the tables politically. But it will require a unified and concerted lobbying effort, something the industry hasn't previously been able to muster. The fact that both bills have the support of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach, and the powerful insurance agent lobby make the fight that much more difficult. As a first step, the ABA and the Independent Bankers Association of America, two groups that often have common members but different views, must get along. "This conjures up a hell of a lot of problems," Mr. Beverage said. "We don't do (bankers) any justice by sitting around and saying the IBAA is stupid and saying the ABA has done some really dumb things." But the industry can't blame its weak lobbying position solely on the trade groups. Individual bankers need to become politically savvy, meeting frequently with their local lawmakers to explain how bills will affect their bottom line, he said. "There's a naivete about how the process works," he said. When he tells bankers what's going on in Congress, Mr. Beverage said, they often respond: "I can't believe they would do that to us." Mr. Beverage admitted that with banks pulling in record profits, convincing lawmakers to listen his message won't be easy. "I think it's probably an uphill battle," Mr. Beverage said. "I don't think anybody has a whole hell of a lot of sympathy for banks today." Mr. Beverage said the industry's best hope for salvation may come from the Senate, whose members' views on the insurance moratorium are less well known. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Alfonse M. D'Amato, Mr. Beverage said, "has sat back and watched the fireworks on the other side of the Hill."
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