Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Winning in Washington. (ABA President's Position)

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Winning in Washington. (ABA President's Position)

Article excerpt

"WHY DID I WANT TO WIN? BECAUSE I didn't want to lose."

Boxer Max Schmelling

It's been a long time--if ever--since 7,000 bankers have gone to the Nation's Capital to lobby Congress on anything. Usually, several hundred bankers show up when our industry needs them.

And therein lies the problem.

I picked the number 7,000 because that's about how many real estate agents were m Washington during one week this spring to lobby their members of Congress. The agents were there to ask Congress to pass legislation to keep banks out of real estate brokerage...permanently.

The National Association of Realtors has led a successful lobbying effort because it has had the numbers. As a result, a majority of members in the House, and about a dozen senators, have agreed to co-sponsor the so-called "Community Choice in Real Estate Act of 2001" (H.R. 3424, S. 1839).

If you were a member of Congress, would you pick the side with 7,000 supporters, or the one with several hundred?

I've pointed out to bankers in virtually every forum I have spoken at over the past nine months, including this one, that victory on issues from real estate brokerage to getting the credit unions taxed will come only when many bankers get personally involved in lobbying for their industry.

Were the real estate debate--and the credit union debate, for that matter--fought solely on the merits, bankers would be in a much better position. Our arguments about competition, fairness and a better break for consumers make a lot of sense. In testimony on the Hill, ABA told a House subcommittee that the primary purpose of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley financial modernization legislation was "to create a mechanism to bring our financial services laws up-to-date" and "to remove the need to have Congress referee between industries every time any change to our financial system was proposed. …

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