Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Everyone Competes in the Political Market

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Everyone Competes in the Political Market

Article excerpt

Congress could go a ways toward redeeming itself for the way it has been treating banking if it were to pass a truly equitable and forward-looking financial modernization bill this session.

As this was written shortly after Labor Day, such an outcome was possible, hut unlikely. Even in a normal year, a legislative body in the throes of a pre-election rush to adjourn makes predicting any specific piece of legislation risky. On top of that, the release of the Special Prosecutor's report could so preoccupy Congress that most everything else sits in limbo.

That would be a shame, because all indications are that the various parties were very close to agreement on a revised H.R. 10--the financial reform bill. A positive outcome would have been sweet, indeed, for the industry, for the ABA and its lobbying staff, and most particularly for outgoing ABA president Bill McConnell. It was his lot to be in office the year that the credit unions felt compelled to, "Cry 'Havoc!' and let slip the dogs of war." In his own column on the previous page, McConnell gives his view on that struggle, sifting out several positives from the debris of battle, not least being a strengthened resolve on the part of bankers to keep pressing the issue until right prevails.

Bankers will debate for years whether they ever really had a chance to derail the pro-credit union legislation that rumbled through both houses flattening everything in its path. In his assessment, McConnell doesn't pull any punches when he says bankers spent too much time bellyaching and not enough time contacting members of Congress, although he doesn't think the outcome, ultimately, would have changed. His successor, Scott Jones, profiled in our cover story (p.40), was also deeply involved in the credit union struggle. Partly in response to that experience, he has made one of his top initiatives to figure out ways to get more bankers active in the Byzantine process of legislation. It's a process in which both personal contacts and large numbers count heavily.

Bankers by nature are cautious and conservative--a stereotypical view, to be sure, but one that has deep roots, and is, frankly, appropriate. That said, bankers have in fact made great strides in the marketplace--shaking off the effects of the staid post World War II era. …

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