Time for Congress to tackle credit unions’ runaway regulator

by: Frank Keating

A tax exemption that has long outlived its usefulness is not the only arbitrary advantage credit unions enjoy over banks. They also benefit from a compliant federal regulator that often acts like a cheerleader for the industry it is supposed to be supervising.

If there were any doubts about this advantage, they ought to be permanently banished by the National Credit Union Administration’s June proposal to gut limits on business lending by credit unions. The proposal is just the latest in a long string of actions by the credit union industry and its partisan regulator to make it easier for credit unions to expand their commercial portfolios.

Expand they have. Credit unions have moved aggressively into business lending, with average annual growth of 14 percent since 2004. Business loans made by credit unions have more than doubled as a percentage of total assets during that same period.

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