Bankers and the 105th

By Dods, Walter A., Jr. | ABA Banking Journal, December 1996 | Go to article overview

Bankers and the 105th


Dods, Walter A., Jr., ABA Banking Journal


No government can be long secure without a formidable opposition," British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once observed. If that's true, both the White House and the Congressional majority ought to feel secure indeed. Neither end of Pennsylvania Avenue will lack for a formidable opposition when Congress convenes in January.

As our industry plans how best to take our cause and legislative agenda to the 105th Congress in 1997, we face a situation that hasn't changed that much from the 104th. Republicans still control the House of Representatives, though their majority has shrunk somewhat. In the Senate, the Republicans' hold has strengthened slightly. And a Democrat still resides in the White House.

While some may lament that one side is not clearly in control in Washington, many Americans (55% in a pre-election Harris poll) believe the country is best governed when the parties share power.

Another thing that hasn't changed in the brief interlude between Congresses is that the laws governing our industry need to be brought into line with the competitive landscape we face as bankers.

Many months before we knew the shape of the new Congress, the ABA began laying out its legislative and regulatory strategy for 1997. Bankers' issues usually go beyond party lines or partisan politics. What is good for banks is generally good for the economy, and our industry can often build support for its issues from both sides of the aisle.

The ABA government-relations strategy is defined, and refined, through a process that Seeks input from as many bankers as possible--an annual survey of ABA members; town meetings; an expanded ABA Summer Meeting; and visits by ABA's officers to dozens of state bankers association conventions.

Early in October, your ABA board of directors approved the association's government relations priorities for the coming year. Many items on the list are issues we and the state bankers' associations have been working on for a long time. ABA's top issues for '97 include:

* Credit union competition.

* New products and services, including insurance and securities.

* Merger of bank and thrift charters.

* Rural development, including competition from the Farm Credit System.

* Regulatory burden relief.

Credit union competition has moved prominently to the top of our legislative priorities list. Bankers face too many inequities when they have to go up against credit unions that not only avoid paying taxes, but also ignore their common-bond obligations and, instead, grow aggressively by ranging far afield to take on new members. …

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