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Association Leaders series profiles CUNAs Dan Mica

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WASHINGTON (7/7/09)—In an influential biweekly publication aimed at association and nonprofit executives, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Dan Mica was featured as the vigilant “watchman for the credit union industry” amid such challenges as the current push in Washington for regulatory reform, as well as ever-present threats from the banking industry. The interview, which occurred just minutes after Mica attended the White House’s much-anticipated announcement on financial reform late last month, covered a broad range of topics. Among them, CEO Update, sought Mica’s comments on the just-announced administration plan to institute a new financial regulatory agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Mica said that some of the reforms the Obama administration has proposed have been “on the tips of the tongues of leaders for some time.” Not so, Mica noted, of the new consumer protection bureau. The CUNA leader said attached to this idea are the biggest concerns, as well as the biggest potential. Mica noted that key people in the banking industry have said they will fight the proposal “tooth and nail.” But Mica cautioned that given the support for the concept among House and Senate leadership and the makeup of Congress, conditions are aligned for “this or something like it” to happen. So what is CUNA’s strategy, the interview queries. Mica responded that the proposal will evolve as it moves through Congress. Instead of going on an all-out attack, CUNA and credit unions should become “a player,” offer input” and “try to find some common ground.” He said credit unions are the likely candidates to help define good public policy to meet both consumer and financial institution needs. “Credit unions are much closer to that than any other group of financial institutions,” Mica said. On the topic of the bad economy’s effect on CUNA’s financial situation, Mica underscored for CEO Update that CUNA’s system ensures that members’ dues dollars, which have remained stable, are directed to core advocacy functions. He acknowledged losses, but noted that they have been experienced though CUNA’s reserves and its defined benefits plan. CEO Update took note of CUNA’s strong track record over the 13 years since Mica took the helm of an almost bankrupt organization and built it into a premier national trade association. Others recently profiled in the CEO Update's "Association Leaders" series have included Dawn Sweeney of the National Restaurant Association and Tracy Mullin of the National Retail Federation.

CLF cap other CU issues on move in Congress this week

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WASHINGTON (7/7/09)—Lawmakers from both sides of the Capitol return to Washington this week, after a week-long July 4th District Work Period, to tackle a substantial agenda, including issues of interest to credit unions. On the House side, for instance, the House Appropriations Committee has scheduled a vote for Tuesday on the Financial Services Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2010. This bill, approved by the subcommittee on financial services prior to the recess, includes language that would permit the Central Liquidity Facility to lend to its highest statutorily authorized level. On Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on financial services and general government will mark-up its appropriations bill for fiscal year 2010. Also on Wednesday, as reported earlier in News Now, the Credit Union National Association will testify before the Senate Banking subcommittee on financial institutions at its hearing entitled "The Effects of the Economic Crisis on Community Banks and Credit Unions in Rural Areas." Frank Michael, CEO of Allied CU in Stockton, Calif., will testify on behalf of CUNA. Also of interest this week, the House Judiciary subcommittee on commercial and administrative law has scheduled a hearing entitled, "Home Foreclosures: Will Voluntary Mortgage Modifications Help Families Save Their Homes?" The same day, the House Financial Services Committee intends to hold one in its long series of regulatory reform hearing, this one called, "Regulatory Restructuring: Balancing the Independence of the Federal Reserve in Monetary Policy with Systemic Risk Regulation."

Inside Washington (07/06/2009)

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* WASHINGTON (7/7/09)--The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is revisiting its appraisal policies in light of complaints that its restrictions on appraisal management companies’ fees and lenders’ reliance on the management companies are discouraging appraisers from taking on loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration( FHA). Four trade groups wrote a letter July 1 to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. The letter stated that the loss of appraisers is adding risk to the FHA’s program (American Banker July 6). HUD said it is working on a response to the letter addressing the issue raised by the letter ... * WASHINGTON (7/7/09)--A proposed plan by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) to restrict private-equity firms from buying failed banks has sparked opposition from bank regulators. The plan would subject private-equity firms to additional capital, disclosure and cross-guarantee requirements (American Banker July 6). Financial observers say the plan goes too far and could increase resolution expenses. Private-equity investments would be unpalatable, said Wilbur Ross, an investor. Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan and Acting Office of Thrift Supervision Director John Bowman also said they oppose the plan. FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair noted the proposal is open for comment and is not final. The plan’s intent is not to scare off potential bidders of failed banks, but to prevent more failures, she added ...