Sen. Mike Crapo hit the ball out of the park in last week's American Banker op-ed. A frank discussion about what regulatory burdens mean for financial institutions and the communities they serve is long overdue.

Too often, regulators force credit unions and other smaller financial institutions to comply with rules written to address the misdeeds of Wall Street firms and the largest depository institutions in the country. Credit unions did not engage in the practices that contributed to the financial crisis. But the post-crisis reaction of lawmakers and regulators has been to target everyone, thereby missing the point about what caused this disaster.

It is no secret gridlock in Congress today makes it difficult to reduce the regulatory burden on financial institutions. And because Congress can't seem to act, regulators may feel they have a bit of carte blanche.

This duality has created a tough environment for small financial institutions. The challenge is figuring out ways to move the legislative process forward even when the outlook is discouraging.

Credit unions do not need to face this problem alone. It is important to seek allies and alliances-those with whom we have commonality of purpose for regulatory relief.

I believe credit unions can work with small banks to create momentum and put pressure on both legislators and regulators to reduce unnecessary and cumbersome regulations. This could be a surprise for us to deliver to Congress. We can create a shared agenda and build momentum in a bipartisan way to help reduce the regulatory burden that small banks and credit unions face.

Let us try something new: Credit unions and small banks working together to reduce the crushing regulatory burden.

Jim Nussle is the president and chief executive of the Credit Union National Association. Follow him on Twitter at @Nussle.