April 24, 2012

NAFCU keeping MBL before public

April 24, 2012 – The credit union member business lending cap-lift bill is "a fair and rational approach to helping Main Street's small businesses," NAFCU's Fred Becker says in a commentary published in Monday's issue of The Washington Post's Capital Business.

Becker, in this most recent commentary, observes that the stock market has risen, yet Main Street businesses continue to face difficulty getting needed capital from banks. And while credit unions have been devoting more funds to loans for small businesses, the current MBL cap constrains them.

"The federal government made several attempts to boost business lending through the 2009 stimulus bill, the 2010 Small Business Jobs Act and ‘credit enhancements' that pumped up the Small Business Administration's loan guarantee rate," Becker writes. "Yet none of these vehicles [has] made significant progress in improving small businesses' access to capital. Of the $30 billion apportioned in the Small Business Lending Fund, only $4.8 billion was actually disbursed."

Credit unions and their trade organizations aren't alone is seeking an MBL cap lift. The Consumer Federation of America weighed in last week, urging passage of S. 2231. In addition, 11 conservative organizations, among them the Americans for Tax Reform and The Heartland Institute, wrote jointly to urge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to bring S. 2231 to the floor for a vote.

"Here are the facts: This credit union deregulation bill is a simple measure with significant benefits," the groups wrote in their letter. "S. 2231 would lift but not eliminate burdensome regulations that have, since 1998, made it difficult for credit unions to lend money to the businesses of their member account holders."

Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chief sponsor of the House MBL cap-lift bill (H.R. 1418), is also pressing for action. "America's small businesses are the engine that will drive our economic growth," he wrote in a column published online. "Without fuel (i.e. business capital), that engine doesn't produce."

The lawmaker notes that many small businesses turn to local institutions they know, including credit unions, in seeking capital. "A 'ma and pa' flower shop looking to expand into e-commerce – creating possible employment for delivery drivers and packers – would turn to their neighborhood institution first before anywhere else," he says. "Why not give these credit unions, so heavily relied on by local small businesses, the ability to safely supply the demand for credit?"