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Congress returns to consider debt taxes housing and cybercrime

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WASHINGTON (9/13/11)--The U.S. House and Senate are back in session this week and the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction launches its inaugural hearing today to study the history and drivers of the national debt. Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf will testify during that hearing. Deficit reduction also will be the lead topic at a hearing today by the Senate Banking subcommittee on fiscal responsibility and economic growth on the role that tax reform could play in deficit reduction and U.S. fiscal policy. Former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan and assorted academics are set to testify during that hearing. Today also will feature discussions on housing finance reform, as the Senate Banking Committee investigates, through the testimony of academics, whether a government guarantee is needed in housing finance. Housing-related discussions will continue on Wednesday as the panel’s subcommittee on housing, transportation and community development studies new ideas for mortgage refinancing and restructuring. Senate committees will remain busy on Thursday as the Senate Budget Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee address economic policy and data security, respectively. On the other side of the Hill, the House Financial Services subcommittee on financial institutions and consumer credit also will discuss data security during a Wednesday hearing entitled “Cybersecurity: Threats to the Financial Sector.” The House Budget Committee has also set a Wednesday hearing on “the Need for Pro-Growth Tax Reform.” A scheduled House Financial Services Committee hearing on the housing finance system in the global context, which was to take place on Thursday, has been postponed; the future date has not been announced.

CUNA encourages CU comment on CFPB servicemember plans

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WASHINGTON (9/13/11)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is encouraging credit unions to respond to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) Office of Servicemember Affairs’ request for comment on the financial products and services they offer to members of the military community. The CFPB earlier this month asked credit unions and other financial institutions for general information on products, services, programs, policies, or practices that are tailored to the unique financial needs of servicemembers and their families, or marketed to them. The agency has also asked for more specific information on any assistance institutions offer to servicemembers who are distressed homeowners and their families. The CFPB also has sought information on any servicemember-specific short-term lending products. The agency is accepting comment until Sept. 20. For the CUNA comment call, use the resource link. The CFPB Office of Servicemember Affairs is led by Holly Petraeus, who previously served as the director of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Military Line, a joint BBB/Department of Defense project that provides consumer education and advocacy for military families. She is the wife of General David Petraeus and the daughter of a former West Point superintendent. The office works to shield U.S. servicemembers and their families from abusive financial practices and monitors servicemember questions and complaints regarding consumer financial products and services. It also coordinates responses with CFPB staff and other federal and state agencies. CUNA representatives have met with Petraeus, and CUNA plans to work with this new office in the future.

Cheney named as a top D.C. association exec

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WASHINGTON (9/13/11)--Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney has been named as one of the Top Association CEOs of 2011 in CEO Update's latest list of influential executives. CEO Update, a Washington bi-weekly publication that reports on association and non-profit executive careers and people, drew its list from the leadership of many national associations that exist in the greater Washington, D.C., area. The publication notes that Cheney, who recently completed his first year as head of CUNA, has been credited by allies and adversaries alike “for nearly scoring a major upset in the debit-card swipe fee battle.” CEO Update added: “At a time when big banks were less popular than, say, Congress, Cheney's stepped up advocacy efforts, and huge grassroots mobilization of credit union members helped persuade many lawmakers who had supported the fee limit to vote in June to delay it.” While federal lawmakers ultimately did not delay the interchange fee cap implementation, CUNA's and credit unions' “show of strength among lawmakers and thousands of comments to the Fed likely influenced the central bank, which substantially raised the fee cap, essentially splitting the difference between what retailers and financial interests wanted,” CEO Update said. Cheney said of the listing that it is “a nice acknowledgement of CUNA’s focused team effort on behalf of our member credit unions.’” While Matt Shea, CEO of the National Retail Federation that was on the other side of the historic interchange battle also was noted as a “top CEO,” Cheney was the only representative of any financial services association on the CEO Updatelist.

Inside Washington (09/12/2011)

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*WASHINGTON (9/13/11)--The new congressional committee on deficit reduction is being pressured by President Barack Obama and the business community to set aside party differences and exceed its mandate of trimming $1.5 trillion from budget shortfall during the next decade. The president addressed the topic in his speech to a joint session of Congress on Thursday (The New York Times Sept. 12). He called for a deficit-reduction goal of at least $2 trillion. Much of the extra savings would offset his new $447 billion stimulus plan. A group of at least 57 prominent business executives and former government officials signed a petition, urging the committee to “go big” in achieving a greater deficit reduction. Among those who signed the petition, which was released on Monday, are former treasury secretaries, budget directors and economic advisers to eight presidents from Richard Nixon to Obama; former congressional leaders; and executives of top companies. The petition urges the committee to develop a large-scale debt-reduction package sufficient to stabilize the debt as a share of the economy. That level is estimated to be $4 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade, savings that would increase in later years, according to the Times … * ALEXANDRIA, Va. (9/13/11)--Lara K. Rodríguez has been appointed as the National Credit Union Administration’s (NCUA) new deputy general counsel. Rodríguez succeeds Michael McKenna, who became general counsel last month. As deputy general counsel, Rodríguez manages the day-to-day operations of the office of general counsel. She oversees the three divisions within the office and also serves as the agency’s chief freedom of information officer. Rodríguez joins NCUA from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. after serving as a counsel in the special issues unit … * WASHINGTON (9/13/11)—Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) Monday called for changes to the makeup of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) “for increased democratization” of that body. The FOMC oversees monetary policy by setting targets for interest rates. Currently, the voting membership of the committee is comprised of the seven members of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, who are nominated by the president and subject to Senate confirmation, and five of the 12 presidents of the regional Federal Reserve Banks, who are chosen by regional Federal Reserve Bank directors. In a statement Frank claimed that this creates “a self-perpetuating group of private citizens who select each other and who are treated as equals in setting federal monetary policy with officials nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.” Earlier this year Frank introduced a bill that would remove the five members of the FOMC not subject to Senate confirmation. He announced Monday that in upcoming weeks, he intended to introduce new legislation, which would address also require the president to nominate four new FOMC members to represent the Federal Reserve Bank regions. Those four members would be “subject to Senate confirmation, but not otherwise employed by the Federal Reserve system” …