Rep. Michael G. Oxley, R-Ohio, had not yet finished his first news conference as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday when reporters began peppering him with questions about banking issues such as deposit insurance reform.

Rep. Oxley, who had been chairman of the former House Commerce subcommittee on finance, said that he was waiting to sit down with incoming Bush administration officials before establishing his legislative priorities.

As journalists continued to press for any hint of an agenda, Rep. Oxley said, “Well, I’ve only been chairman for 20 minutes.”

President-elect George W. Bush was frequently noted for his charisma during the campaign, but little did anyone realize that he attended “charm school.”Rep. Marge Roukema, R-N.J., ought to know — she was his classmate.

She recounted a meeting with the incoming President in 1999, where she introduced herself to him.

“He said, ‘You don’t have to introduce yourself to me, Marge,’ ” Rep. Roukema said in an interview Thursday. “He told me, ‘You and I went to charm school together.’ ”

The President-elect was referring to their attending a candidate-strategy seminar in 1978, when both were running for Congress for the first time.

“I met him there, and we became kind of friends there,” Rep. Roukema said. “He called that going to charm school. But he lost and I won. And he ended up becoming President.”

Bankers were among the 32 executives who had the ear of President-elect Bush at an economic forum Wednesday and Thursday in Austin, Tex.He assured the executives that his administration “‘will do our best to deregulate where we can,’ ” said Terry J. Jorde, president and chief executive officer of CountryBank USA in Cando, N.D., who attended the meeting.

Ms. Jorde said she told the President-elect that since rural banks’ funding sources are drying up, “we need to continue to look at competitive funding sources.” Though many people have the bulk of their savings in the stock market, “the elderly have more money in banks” and “as they die, their heirs take the money out of the rural areas,” she said.

She said she emphasized to President-elect Bush that community banks need continued access to the Federal Home Loan Bank System and other funding assistance to ease that liquidity crisis. She also advocated an increase in deposit insurance coverage to help the community banks compete with credit unions, Farm Credit banks, and large commercial banks with access to capital markets.

John M. Hennessy, chairman of Credit Suisse First Boston; Jack Faris, president of the National Federation of Independent Business; and Darcy Walker, senior vice president of Discover Financial Services Inc., also attended the meeting.

At least one consumer activist was on hand. Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America, said he urged President-elect Bush during the meeting to consider how any economic policy he might make would affect “households with limited incomes, limited assets, and often large consumer debts.”

Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., called “misguided and asinine” the House Republican leadership’s decision Wednesday to transfer jurisdiction of securities and insurance issues from the House Commerce Committee to the Banking Committee, and rechristen the latter as the Financial Services Committee.“I hope the securities and insurance industries do not suffer the same fate as the savings and loan industry, but I won’t be holding my breath,” Rep. Dingell, the ranking Democrat on the new House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a Jan. 2 press statement.

Rep. Dingell continued to heap criticism on the financial services panel in a speech the next day on the House floor. The House Banking Committee “presided over some splendid scandals in the area of banking and savings and loans and has never understood what was going on,” he said.

“Taxpayers have ponied up at least $500 billion because of the incompetence and indifference of that committee. And now we are transferring the jurisdiction over securities to the Banking Committee, so that they may conduct the business of the securities industry in precisely the same way they have supervised the business of the banking and the savings and loan industries.”

He closed by living up to his doomsayer reputation. “I would simply tell my colleagues … you have made your choice of fools, and I should say that you should now look forward to a splendid disaster,” he said. “It is coming.”

President Clinton on Wednesday named Democrat Yolanda T. Wheat as the new chairman of the National Credit Union Administration. But with a Republican administration coming in and GOP board member Dennis Dollar nipping at her heels, Ms. Wheat should enjoy the honor while she can.She succeeds the controversial Norman E. D’Amours, who resigned Dec. 28. A board member since 1996, Ms. Wheat is the first woman and the first African-American to head the three-person board. President Clinton added Democrat Geoff Bacino to the board through a recess appointment Dec. 29.

Mr. Dollar, whose term runs through April 2003, said he has already told officials on the Bush transition team that he would like to serve as chairman. “I fully expect the Bush administration to want a Republican chair at all agencies, including the NCUA,” he said.

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