Say it Ain’t So: McWatters Slated to Leave NCUA Board
I knew it was too good to last.
Suddenly, in August of 2014, the NCUA board included a real life, unabashed strict-constructionist lawyer and fierce advocate of credit union flexibility. Now he’s leaving to go irritate a whole new group of bureaucrats and credit unions are worse off for it. Send In the clowns.
J. Mark McWatters, who has been an outspoken advocate of greater regulatory flexibility for credit unions since he joined the NCUA’s three member board in August of 2014 has been nominated by President Obama yesterday to serve on the Board of Directors of the recently reauthorized Export-Import Bank of the United States.
I will get over the fact that he is ditching the NCUA but it will take some time. Since his appointment he has not been afraid to ruffle some feathers, He questioned NCUA’s legal authority to impose risk based capital requirements on Well Capitalized credit unions; advocated for a more expansive interpretation of credit union MBL authority and for a more flexible approach to MBL enforcement; and pointedly questioned NCUA’s budget priorities. Critics would argue that much of this would have been done without McWatters but it’s hard to believe that these initiatives would have been pushed with quite so much gusto had he not been around.
The only person happier than McWatters this morning might be Chairman Matz. Arranged marriages are always dicey and these two get along about as well as John and Lorena Bobbitt. In fairness to Matz, McWatters is pathologically incapable of going more than five minutes without referencing the fact that he is a lawyer and, at times, seems more interested in being a contrarian and listening to himself speak then in playing a constructive part of the policy process. But no one is perfect. Fortunately, McWatters is far from done. His still has to be approved by the Senate and until he is he promises to stay actively involved with the NCUA.
Parenthetically, McWatters’ nomination is shrewd insider baseball. Everyone in politics has a Godfather who helps them along the way; on paper McWatters’ Godfather is Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) ) who, as Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was a leader of the drive to kill the Export Import Bank which he considered a leading example of corporate welfare. McWatters served as counsel to the congressman in 2009 and chose to be sworn in to his position on the NCUA Board in Jeb’s District office . It’s safe to say that, with McWaters on the bank’s Board, he has a kindred soul who will relish the opportunity to tweak the corporate lobbyists who seek the Bank’s support..