JACKSON, Mich. (6/17/10)--Calling it "a bunch of quack," a credit union has turned the tables on the efforts of a group to link the interchange debate to the credit union tax exemption. Credit unions across the nation Tuesday and Wednesday reported receiving a fax of an ad (which originally appeared in the Washington political journal, Politico
) from a group calling itself "American Family Voices."
The faxed ad features a duck with a cigar in its mouth giving the old "if it walks like a duck" argument used for years by banks in the tax exemption debate. The aim of the ad is to support the interchange amendment, which would allow the Federal Reserve to set interchange fees. Credit unions and other small financial institutions contend the amendment would hurt their debit card programs and force more fees on consumers. But, at American 1 FCU, that tactic of faxing the ad backfired. The $173 million asset credit union in Jackson, Mich., pushed back in its blog and produced its parody of the faxed ad. The parody is pictured here. It says, "American Family Voices doesn't know quack." "We got a funny fax the other day from American Family Voices, a lobby group that's looking to enact interchange reforms that could hurt our debit card program," the credit union's blog says. "Pretty goofy, right? So goofy it relies on that ol' banker trick of trying to paint credit unions as do-gooder banks. AFV is trying to do two things at once: dig up the outdated banker argument, and ...spin it to fit their interchange views. It's a bunch of quack," the blog added. The blog outlines the points in the fax and refutes them. At the fax's claim that "this is not your grandfather's credit union," the credit union responds. "Well of course not--is growth a bad thing? Credit unions have grown partly due to customers' disgust with big banks, but our industry is still dwarfed [by] the for-profit banking industry." The blog continues: "We've already made our position on interchange clear, and we can argue about the merits of that all day long. But tying us together with the 'big Wall Street banks that helped caused the financial crisis'? I don't think so." The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions strongly oppose the interchange amendment, which would allow the government to intervene in setting fees, damaging credit unions' and small institutions' debit card programs and forcing consumers to pay more as a result. Credit unions have generated more than half a million contacts with lawmakers about interchange since May 24. Also Wednesday: A letter signed by more than 130 members of the House, from both sides of the aisle in support of the credit union position on interchange, was made public.