ABA Banking Journal - March 2010 - (Page 10)
ABA Chairman’s Position
Continued from page 9
Chairman and CEO, United Bank of Michigan email@example.com
cost saving initiatives in hopes of preserving profitability, but instead destroyed organic growth and long-term sustainability.” To learn more, go to www. aba.com/ABIA/default.htm.
Washington would benefit from a new round of bipartisanship
THERE’S BEEN A SEA CHANGE IN political attitudes over the years since I started coming to Washington for ABA meetings. It’s impacted public policy and could be affecting the way banking issues are discussed. The sense of bipartisanship in Washington— and in our national political life—has been lost. It was resurrected for a time after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But it has disappeared in the intensity of the political and economic debates of the past several years. Partisanship— intense partisanship—has become the norm. There was a time when politicians of different parties were actually friends—or at least friendly. They could fight with great intensity over the issues during the day, but an informal truce was called after 6 p.m. and Democrats and Republicans would get together in the evening for drinks. There was no better example of that than President Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill (D-Mass.) who enjoyed one another’s company—after hours. Back then, politics wasn’t so personal. The consequence of this lack of bipartisanship is either inaction or wrong action. When either party doesn’t need to woo votes from across the aisle, we can end up with legislation that isn’t tempered by legitimate alternative viewpoints. Some two months after the upset victory of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) to succeed the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), the political pundits have poured forth analyses—many of them conflicting—about the meaning of his victory. There is one fact that strikes me as being relevant to banking: That election was decided by independents—a sizeable group representing the political middle-ground—something that’s been missing in Washington lately. I’ve always thought of ABA as the place where diverse interests come together and, collectively, decide what is best for banking. We are that middle ground. Because we represent both large and small banks, our message packs a punch with policymakers. Our diversity brings pragmatism to the debate, and our unity—our industry’s version of bipartisanship—brings results. Instead of fighting each other, we work together toward a common solution. We’ve seen where divisiveness takes control of Congress. The same is true for banking. Anti-bank rhetoric may be aimed at large Wall Street banks, but don’t think for a minute it doesn’t hurt Main Street banks, too. Policies aimed at punishing the biggest banks can set off a chain reaction that ultimately harms the smallest community banks. That’s why public policy should “fix,” not punish. Our country needs a healthy marketplace that includes both large and small banks. Without large institutions, large American corporations would be financed by foreign lenders. Without small institutions, entrepreneurs might never get the chance to turn their dreams into a thriving business. ABA pursues good public policy and marshals the talent, energy, and perspective of our members to bring about the positive changes we seek. Useful debate includes listening. An industry united might do more than win the fight for good public policy. We might set a trend that reintroduces civility into public life. And those in Washington might begin to work together on issues for the common good. That’s what unity can do. Let it begin with us.
Tools for Teach Children to Save Day participants
The ABA Education Foundation is offering free online training and a chance to win one of four $1,000 donations to banks that participate in its 14th annual Teach Children to Save program, a year-long event highlighted by Teach Children to Save Day on April 27. “Bankers have been putting the Teach Children to Save program to work in their communities for years, so a $1,000 donation and free training is not only an incentive, it’s also a thank you,” said ABA Education Foundation Director Laura Fisher. The foundation will make a $1,000 donation—to be presented to a local school or youth group—to three ABA member banks that reach the most students between now and Nov. 1. Also, banks participating in Teach Children to Save for the first time will be entered into a drawing for a fourth $1,000 donation. Banks must register for the contest at www.abaef.com. The foundation is also hosting free Webinars for both new and returning program participants that cover steps for planning an event, tips on using the Teach Children to Save resource kit, and how to contact schools and other groups. (To register, go to www.aba.com/ABAEF/ WebinarInfo.htm.)
MARCH 2010/ABA BANKING JOURNAL
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