December 15, 2018
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Changing Dodd-Frank regulations will help Main Street

Charles Dharapak | AP
Charles Dharapak | AP
In this July 21, 2010 file photo, President Barack Obama, left, stands with Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., second left, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., second right, and Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., after he signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection financial reform bill at the Ronald Reagan at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington. Congress has voted to roll back some key elements of the Dodd-Frank law, which was enacted to provide the kind of regulatory framework that might keep another Great Recession from happening. Supporters of a vote, Tuesday, May 22, 2018 say it will spur the economy by increasing lending, easing the regulatory burden on small and medium-sized banks. Critics argue that it increases the chances of future taxpayer bailouts like the ones that followed the financial crisis.

Credit unions support the passage of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, S. 2155, which recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives and had the “yes” vote of Rep. Bruce Poliquin.

Although some groups have mischaracterized the bill as boon to big banks, the reality is that it helps Main Street far more than it helps Wall Street. Credit unions are Main Street. We are community-based, local not-for-profit financial cooperatives. We reinvest our earnings back in our members. In fact, there are nearly 700,000 credit union members in Maine and our credit unions work every day to improve their financial lives.

We care about our communities and we care about our neighbors. That’s why we’ve raised over $8 million dollars to end hunger in the state. That’s why we supported efforts to rein in Wall Street in 2007, and were among the first supporters of anti-predatory lending legislation here in Maine.

The passage of S. 2155 will improve our abilities to do even more for our members and communities. For example, elder financial abuse is a real issue in Maine. Front-line credit union staff are often in the best position to identify it. However, they have been at risk being Good Samaritans in helping stop it. With the passage of S. 2155, credit union tellers will be offered some protections when they report suspected elder financial abuse and help keep our seniors safe.

In no small part because of their commitment to our elder citizens, in the Senate, this bipartisan legislation was co-sponsored by Sen. Angus King and supported by Sen. Susan Collins. It is also why Poliquin supported it in the House.

In addition to helping keep our seniors safe, S. 2155 will improve credit union’s ability to provide access to real estate loans and support the small, local businesses that fuel Maine, while putting focus extra on protecting Mainers against cyber threats.

Poliquin took the time to listen to stories from credit unions in his district that made loans to small businesses for a new tractor and stories of business owners being turned away from the big banks because their loan needs were too small. He took the time to understand how elder financial abuse happens, and the best ways to protect against it. He listens to how personal and small business financial matters are affecting his constituents back home, and how he can help back in Washington, D.C.

Does S. 2155 reduce some of the regulations put into place with Dodd-Frank? Frankly, it does. However, if all the 5,700 credit unions in America were combined into one, they would still be smaller than each of the largest “Wall Streets” banks are individually. When Dodd-Frank was passed it cast a one-size-fits all net, which credit unions were inadvertently caught in despite being clearly different and not part of the problem. Credit unions should not have been caught in that net, and S. 2155 helps.

Todd Mason is president and CEO of the Maine Credit Union League, the trade association for Maine’s 55 credit unions.

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