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1998 Ron Paul Chapter 33

Credit Union Membership Access Act

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1 April 1998


1998 Ron Paul 33:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, since I was the first one in this Congress to step forward and introduce legislation affirming the NCUA’s position allowing multiple common bonds for credit unions and signed on as a cosponsor of H.R. 1151 as originally written, I feel that I am in a disagreement among friends. I must oppose this bill because of the new regulations it imposes on credit unions and does nothing to address the legitimate concerns of the banks.

1998 Ron Paul 33:2
While I strongly support the expansion of the field of membership for credit unions, the new regulations imposed upon them demonstrate a decision to follow the wrong path to “level the playing field” with banks and other financial institutions. A better approach would have been to lead the congress towards less taxes and less regulation. H.R. 1151, The Credit Union Membership Access Act, as amended by the committee, follows a path of more regulations and leads toward higher taxes on credit unions while the Financial Freedom Act, H.R. 1121, which I introduced a year ago, lowers taxes and regulations on banks. While H.R. 1151 does not impose new, direct taxes on credit unions, I fear that that day is just around the corner.

1998 Ron Paul 33:3
The NCUSIF was the only deposit insurance fund started without any federal seed money and the credit unions never came to Washington for a taxpayer-funded bailout. In fact, allowing multiple common bonds for credit unions enhanced their safety and soundness. This bill will add new “safety and soundness” and CRA-like regulations on credit unions. These regulations will add a burdensome regulatory cost. This cost will be passed on to the consumer in the form of higher fees, higher interest rates and less service. It is the marginal consumer who will lose the most when this bill becomes law.

1998 Ron Paul 33:4
The estimated, aggregate cost of bank regulation (noninterest expenses) on commercial banks was $125.9 billion in 1991, according to The Cost of Bank Regulation: A Review of the Evidence, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Staff Study 171 by Gregory Elliehausen, April 1998). It reports that studies estimate that this figure amounts to 12 percent to 13 percent of noninterest expenses. These estimates only include a fraction of the “most burdensome” regulations that govern the industry, it adds, “The total cost of all regulations can only be larger.”

1998 Ron Paul 33:5
These regulations, under which the credit unions will now suffer a greater burden with the passage of this bill, impose a disproportionate burden on smaller institutions. These increased, and unfairly imposed, regulations will stifle the possibility of new entrants into the financial sector and contribute to a consolidation and fewer market participants of the industry. As the introduction of new entrants into the market becomes more costly, smaller institutions will face a marginally increased burden and will be more likely to consolidate. “The basic conclusion is similar for all of the studies of economies of scale: Average compliance costs for regulations are substantially greater for banks at low levels of output than for banks at moderate or high levels of output,” the Staff Study concludes.

1998 Ron Paul 33:6
Smaller banks face the highest compliance cost in relation to total assets, equity capital and net income before taxes, reveals Regulatory Burden: The Cost to Community Banks, a study prepared for the Independent Bankers Association of America by Grant Thornton, January 1993. CRA compliance costs for small banks was $1 billion and 14.4 million employee hours in 1991. For each $1 million in assets, banks under $30 million in assets incur almost three times the compliance cost of banks between $3065 million in assets. This regulation almost quadruples costs on smaller institutions to almost four times when compared to banks over $65 million in assets. These findings are consistent for both equity capital and net income measurements, according to the report.

1998 Ron Paul 33:7
The IBAA study identifies the Community Reinvestment Act as the most burdensome regulation with the estimated cost of complying with CRA exceeding the next most burdensome regulation by approximately $448 million or 77%. Respondents to the IBAA study rated the CRA as the least beneficial and useful of the thirteen regulatory areas surveyed. In short, this bill takes the most costly and least beneficial and useful regulation on banks and adds a similar, new regulation on credit unions. Reducing the most costly, and least beneficial and useful regulation on the banks would have been a better approach.

1998 Ron Paul 33:8
In addition to all of the problems associated with the obligations and requirements that the government regulations impose on the productive, private sectors of the economy, the regulations amount to a government credit allocation scheme. As Ludwig von Mises explained well in the Theory of Money and Credit in 1912, governmental credit allocation is a misdirection of credit which leads to malinvestment and contributes to an artificial boom and bust cycle. Nobel laureate Frederick A. Hayek and Murray Rothbard expounded on this idea.

1998 Ron Paul 33:9
The unintended consequences of the passage of this bill, as written, will be to stifle the formation on new credit unions, consolidate current credit unions into larger ones better able to internalize the cost of the additional regulations, and lower productivity and economic growth due to the misallocation of credit. This increased burden must ultimately be passed on to the consumer. The increased costs on credit unions this bill imposes will lead to a reduction of access to credit unions, higher fees and higher rates. These provisions are anti-consumer. The marginal consumers, those who currently can only receive a loan from a credit union without the burden of CRA, are the ones who will suffer under the provision of this bill. I hope that the bill can be improved as the process continues and lead to less regulations and other taxes on banks rather than more regulations and other taxes on credit unions.

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