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Inside Washington (12/08/2008)

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* WASHINGTON (12/9/08)—The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s (FDIC’s) decision that funds stored on reloadable cards are deposits and therefore are covered by FDIC insurance raises questions such as whether the cards are accounts that require banks to comply with certain rules and regulations. (American Banker Dec. 9) Those rules would include those of the Bank Secrecy Act, the, the USA Patriot Act's know-your-customer requirements, and Regulation E of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act, according to John L. Douglas, a partner in the Atlanta law firm Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP. Thew FDIC opinion was written by its general counsel and published last month in the Fedearl Register… * WASHINGTON (12/9/08)—House Financial Services Committee Chairman last week chided Bush administration officials about refusing to approve a foreclosure mitigation initiative proposed by Federal Deposit Insurance Copr. Chairman Sheila Bair. (American Banker Dec. 8) Speaking at the Consumer Federation of America conference here, Frank said Bair seems to have annoyed “the old boys’ club” and now several bank regulators are “up in the tree house with a 'No girls allowed' sign." He said, according to the paper’s “Washington People” section, that U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s explanation of being between administrations is no excuse…

Key financial services lawmakers at 2009 GAC

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WASHINGTON (12//9/08)—The chairman and a key Democratic member of the House Financial Services Committee have joined the growing list of speakers for the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) 2009 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC). The CUNA 2009 GAC will be held Feb. 22–26 at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who heads the panel’s subcommittee on financial institutions and consumer credit, have accepted CUNA’s invitation to speak on Feb. 25. Other highlights already slated for the program include:
* Economic commentary from Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine, and * A political face-off between pundits Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.
Forbes will offer economic outlook and commentary at a time when the nation continues to struggle through one of the worst financial crises in its history. He attained national visibility in the political arena both 1996 and 2000 when he campaigned for the Republican nomination for President. Carlson and Begala will face off over current developments in national news, politics, and world issues. Carlson is a senior correspondent for MSNBC, and Begala is a CNN political analyst and former top aide to President Bill Clinton. The 2009 GAC will again feature a special kickoff concert on Sunday evening, Feb. 22, presented by the CUNA Councils. Performing will be the Lt. Dan Band, formed by Chicago composer Kimo Williams and actor/musician Gary Sinise, star of the hit CBS TV show "CSI New York." "Lieutenant Dan" is the character Sinise portrayed in the 1994 blockbuster film, "Forrest Gump," a role that won him an Oscar nomination. The band has completed six tours for the USO and performs regularly for troops around the world. CUNA's GAC is the credit union movement's premier national conference on Washington issues. The GAC brings together top policy makers from Congress, the Administration, the federal regulatory agencies and the Washington political establishment to provide the latest information on legislation and regulation that affects credit unions and their ability to serve their members. The GAC also devotes an afternoon to Capitol Hill visits, when attendees meet with their members of Congress and staff to discuss the movement's legislative agenda. With a new Congress and Administration fresh in office, a top priority of the 2009 GAC will be to ensure policy makers understand the credit union difference. "In the aftermath of the housing and credit crises that has gripped our nation, we know policy makers will be giving close scrutiny to the regulatory scheme and structure that governs the financial sector," explained CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica. "At such a critically important juncture, it is essential that we make our voices heard. The GAC--where we bring together thousands of credit union representatives--presents a unique opportunity to have a powerful and lasting impact." GAC housing registration is open. Use the resource link below to access more information and the complete schedule.

Hyland wants accelerated supplemental capital push

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (12/9/08)—National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) board member Gigi Hyland announced Monday she wants to accelerate consideration of supplemental capital approaches to helping credit unions through a tough economy. She said in her role as NCUA liaison to the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS), she has heard state regulators' compelling arguments “that it is time to seriously consider whether credit unions must be given access to some form of supplemental sources of capital to continue providing members the services they need.” “The economy is taking its toll on every facet of the financial services industry, including credit unions,” Hyland stated in a release. Unlike other financial institutions, credit union access to capital is limited to reserves and retained earnings from net income. Permitting credit unions to accept supplemental capital would require action by the U.S. Congress. “(S)o the sooner we get started on this effort, the better,” Hyland said, and added, “I am committed to working with the state supervisors to expeditiously resolve if and how supplemental capital can be correctly structured and serve as an appropriate safety and soundness tool for the NCUA and state supervisory authorities in regulating U.S. credit unions.” In November NASCUS sent a letter to federal lawmakers, which emphasized that while credit unions remain safe and sound in this troubled and volatile market, supplemental capital will enhance their ability to react to market conditions, grow into the future and serve their members in times of economic trouble. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) supports a system giving credit unions access to supplemental capital. In fact it was among the credit union topics CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica discussed last week during a meeting with President-elect Barack Obama's Transition Team.

Whats on for Congress second lame duck

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WASHINGTON (12/9/08)—The U.S. Congress returned to Washington Monday to begin a second lame duck session, with focus primarily on consideration of legislation to bailout automobile manufacturers. CUNA Vice President for Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan said that the association will be monitoring the development of this legislation closely. "Everyone's expectation is that the bailout bill will be carefully negotiated between Congress and the Bush administration, and very limited in scope," Donovan said. And in fact, The New York Times and other media outlets reported late in the day that an agreement between the White House and Congressional Democrats moved forward. The tentative plan would call for a taxpayer-financed rescue with an administration-appointed overseer with expertise in areas such as economic stabilization, financial aid to commerce and industry, financial restructuring, energy efficiency and environmental protection. It is expected that when Congress adjourns this week—most likely with an automaker package hammered out--it will remain out of session until Jan. 6 when congressmen and senators will be sworn into office for the 111th Congress. The federal lawmakers may be quite busy even before the Jan. 20 swearing in of Barack Obama as the 44th President. The House calendar currently features at least 10 days slated for votes. A January calendar has not yet been released by Senate leadership. As reported earlier, there is a House Financial Services Committee hearing scheduled this Wednesday on oversight concerns regarding the U.S. Treasury Department's implementation of the Troubled Asset.