Following the Facts

Article excerpt

Facts are stubborn things." Founding Father John Adams famously told a jury those words while defending eight British soldiers on trial in 1770 for killings during the Boston Massacre.

Adams, a stickler for the truth no matter how inconvenient, urged the jurors to render a verdict based on facts. Most Bostonians, inflamed by a partisan press, had already presumed the soldiers guilty of murder long before the trial.

But after Adams' plea for reason, and after he skillfully presented the evidence at hand, the jury acquitted all but two of the soldiers. His call to find the truth-rather than succumb to "spin" and unexamined "conventional wisdom"-prevailed.

When it comes to assessing government-subsidized credit unions, community bankers, like Adams, have only sought an impartial consideration of the facts:

* No evidence shows that tax-free credit unions use their government subsidy to help low-income people.

* Credit unions' tax exemption creates a 50 basis point competitive subsidy, yet only six basis points of that subsidy are returned to their members through lower rates.

* The credit union tax exemption will, at a minimum, deprive the federal Treasury more than $12 billion over the next five years, and more than $31 billion over the next 10 years.

* Amid increasingly fewer limits on who can borrow, how much and for what purpose, credit unions are rapidly expanding into commercial lending.

* Credit unions, facing few practical limitations on membership requirements, have grown faster than community banks for many years.

These are the stubborn facts! For years ICBA has been underscoring them. What's special is that the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan policy group with a sterling reputation for reliable research and objectivity, recently cited these facts, not the ICBA. …