Credit Unions in the D.C. Lion’s Den
I am in D.C. this week and this town feels very strange. In fact, it’s kind of a cross between a jilted lover blindsided by a breakup he didn’t see coming and a Harry Potter novel in which Voldemort succeeded in killing Harry and taking over Hogwarts. You walk onto K Street and still see high-on-the-hog lobbyists and eager young people anxious to get their hands on power. But, look a little closer and you see that almost everyone is out of sorts. After all, you come to D.C. to talk politics, but for the first time in my life, people are timidly broaching the subject unsure on which side of the Great Divide their acquaintances stand. Why, last night, I found myself apologizing to someone from Iowa for talking politics at the bar!
Into this void comes the credit union industry and in many ways, it is both the best of times and the worst of times. It’s the best of times because as we talk to those anxious to scale back government, we have an agenda that does just that. Scores of credit unions have gone out of existence since 2008 and if Washington doesn’t do something soon, only the largest credit unions will be able to absorb the cost of well-intended mandates that miss the mark.
It’s the worst of times because whereas Washington is filled with a lot of well-intentioned idealistic individuals who believe in government, Trumpism is not simply a “throw the bums out” movement. It is a spasm of populist hatred for almost everything Washington stands for.
Many of the members you will be talking to on the Hill today and tomorrow are people genuinely fearful of what they see happening to their country. As a result, credit unions have to temper their message of mandate relief with the reassurance that what we are seeking is not to destroy government, but to make it better.
On that note, I’ll see some of you in a few minutes. Enjoy your day.