ashington usually turns into
a ghost town in
The humidity becomes overbearing, so people who can find
the time flee town. Congress isn’t
in session and it’s the last chance
families have to take a vacation
before school starts.
But this year, as we all know,
Washington went politically nuts
in August. All sorts of crazy things
happened – many of them emanating from the White House.
There’s no need to catalogue all of
But as Congress returned, its
must-do list has been huge.
Hurricane relief. The debt ceiling. Immigration law overhaul.
Keeping the lights turned on in
federal agencies. Reauthorizing
the children’s health program and
the FAA. The Dreamers.
Oh yeah, then there’s Obam-acare and the wall.
That’s not to mention the myriad of investigations into whether
President Trump colluded with
the Russians in winning the election or obstructed justice by attempting to hinder probes into
Who knows what else will creep
up on us.
And the president isn’t getting
along with anyone except his best
friends. And even some of them
aren’t so fond of him some days.
Harry S. Truman said, “If you
want a friend in Washington, get
a dog.” At the rate he’s going, if
Trump got a dog, he’d make it
mad and it would bite him.
ratings are approaching those usually reserved for used car
Every one of the
major issues facing
Congress will have
an impact on the issues that credit union
folks care about. So,
as we head into the
fall, here’s the state of
play of some of those
Credit union leaders started the year
optimistic that Congress was committed to making substantial changes to
doesn’t produce laws.
It seems like years ago when
the House passed the Financial CHOICE Act – House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hen-sarling’s attempt to overhaul
The legislation hasn’t gone anywhere since the House passed it in
June. And it’s not likely to go anywhere soon.
Senate Banking Chairman
Mike Crapo (R-Id.) and his ranking Democrat, Sherrod Brown of
Ohio, have held a series of hearings on changes to Dodd-Frank.
Crapo and Brown have been
saying nice things about each other and have pledged to produce a
Anything that the Senate can
pass would have to be bipartisan,
since it’s likely to take 60 votes to get
it through that body. And anything
that can get 60 votes in the Senate
is likely to be tinkering, rather than
a full replacement of Dodd-Frank.
And then there’s the question of
whether the House would accept
a watered-down regulatory overhaul bill.
Everyone’s yammering about tax
reform. But yammering won’t
produce tax reform. Votes will
(catch a theme here?).
It’s easy to be in favor of tax reform. I mean, everyone has something they hate about the income
tax code. But even in the best of
times, it’s tough to get a consensus
on Capitol Hill about what changes should be made in the tax code.
And in case you haven’t noticed, these ain’t the best of times.
Tax reform is tough. Every change
gores someone’s ox. Every comma
increases someone’s tax and cuts
someone else’s (OK, that’s a bit of
an exaggeration, but you get the
Anyway, with so much else on
their plates and deep political divisions, will Congress really be
able to tackle something so complex and divisive as tax reform?
It will be a miracle if anything
substantive is enacted.
Which, of course, is a bit of
good news for credit unions. It
means that their tax exemption is
safe until someone else tries to reform the tax code.
OK, this was the year when those
big bad guys at the agency whom
credit unions hate were going to
Trump was going to fire Director Richard Cordray or make his
life so miserable that he’d leave
and never come back.
And if that didn’t work, federal judges were going to say
that the agency’s makeup was
The CFPB rules on arbitration
and payday lending were going to
be buried forever. The agency was
going to be neutered and their
powers so weakened that it might
never be heard from again.
So what’s happened? Nothing.
Cordray still has a job. The federal
court hasn’t ruled yet and Trump
hasn’t fired Cordray. And it looks
like the only way he’s leaving before his term is up next summer is
if he decides he wants to run for
governor of Ohio.
The agency’s rulemaking powers haven’t been weakened at all.
Many Democrats like the agen-
cy. And The New York Times re-
cently reported that the agency
may be so popular that its oppo-
nents aren’t going to succeed in
their efforts to abolish it.
Trump has two vacancies to fill on
the NCUA board, since Rick Mets-ger’s term has technically expired.
Folks in the credit union community say Trump may not nominate replacements until late
fall. Then, the nominees must go
through the confirmation process,
which could be quick or could last
So, what does all this mean?
It means that Trump’s self-de-scribed ability to cut deals isn’t
working in Washington. It means
that Charlottesville and the abysmal response by some of our leaders have divided the country even
And it means that until some
statesmen and stateswomen step
up and start leading, the most we
can hope for on many issues is tinkering along the edges. n
Busy Political Summer Leaves Questions in a Divided Nation
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about tax reform. But
produce tax reform.
Votes will (catch a