WASHINGTON (11/20/08)—Continuing its resolute push for increased member business lending (MBL) authority to help the country through its current credit drought, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) urged top members of the Senate Budget Committee to consider such plan. In advance of the committee’s Wednesday hearing titled “The Economic Outlook and Options for Stimulus,” CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica sent the panel’s leaders a letter reiterating that without a statutory cap, credit unions could extend an additional $10 billion in business in the first year. “This represents significant economic stimulus that does not cost the taxpayers a dime and does not expand the size of government,” Mica said in his letter to Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and ranking member Judd Gregg (R-N.H.). The CUNA letter also underscored that credit unions historically have lower net charge off rates for business loans than do banks. Referring to data from both the National Credit Union Administration and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Mica noted that the average net charge off rate for credit union business loans was .19% in June 2008 compared to .73% for banks. In fact, he pointed out that for ten of the last eleven years, credit union net charge-off rates have been similarly lower than bank rates. “There is no economic, safety and soundness nor historical rationale to the (MBL) cap, which was enacted a decade ago. The cap exists to limit credit unions in this market – the only groups that benefits from credit unions being excluded are the banks that presently are withdrawing credit from small businesses,” Mica said in his letter. While bankers benefit, small businesses pay the price of the credit union business lending cap because they have fewer borrowing options, Mica said, and added, “(I)n the credit crunch, some are finding they have no options at all.” CUNA has sent similar letters to key House members.