December 14, 2011

Thaler pushes MBL to House panel

NAFCU's Brad Thaler on Wednesday urged lawmakers poised for a hearing on capital markets for business start-ups today to also look at legislation to increase credit union member business lending as a way to help small businesses.

Thaler, NAFCU's vice president of legislative affairs, pressed for action on the MBL cap-lift bill in a letter to Reps. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., and Maxine Waters, D-Calif., the chairman and ranking member of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises. The panel holds a hearing today on the Reopening America's Capital Markets to Emerging Growth Companies Act.

Thaler, in his letter, pointed to the interconnectedness of the economy, the work force and the small-business community, stating that credit unions are also small businesses and, "in these tough economic times, are in a solid position to understand and help fellow small businesses with access to capital issues."

The current 12.25-percent-of-assets cap on credit union MBL portfolios severely hampers credit unions' ability to lend to small businesses, he said. H.R. 1418 and S. 509, the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act, would permit a higher MBL cap only for credit unions that meet strict eligibility requirements, including a limit of 30 percent a year on MBL portfolio growth. These requirements "were specifically designed to refute claims that this bill would somehow create safety and soundness issues," he wrote.

"Our nation's credit unions stand ready to make additional member business loans and help get people back to work," said Thaler, who called H.R. 1418 and S. 509 "a win-win for consumers, small businesses and the credit unions who serve them."

With the additions Tuesday of Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., and Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., H.R. 1418 has 108 cosponsors.

Today's hearing begins at 9:30 a.m.