Sen. Tester puts Main Street first

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With the partisan divide appearing wider than ever, Sen. Jon Tester is working to rise above it all by joining his colleagues to release a common-sense regulatory reform package focused on making a better environment for small Main Street financial institutions like credit unions.

Sen. Tester should be commended for ignoring party labels and putting together a piece of legislation that would give consumers better access to mortgages and other products, while freeing up credit union small business capital that can immediately be reinvested in their community.

As one of the authors of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, Sen. Tester has put politics aside for the good of his constituents and declared that one-size-fits-all regulations aren’t helping community-based financial institutions and they certainly aren’t helping consumers.

By standing up for Main Street, he has rejected the rigged economy that sees Wall Street flourishing under a system that is crushing credit unions under regulatory burdens that tie up resources that would otherwise be put toward consumers’ benefit.

Sen. Tester has taken a stand against a climate that allows the biggest banks the best chance of success, while credit unions, the original consumer protectors, struggle to keep up.

Under this system, Wall Street’s punishment for creating the financial crisis is a regulatory regime that allows them to continue what they’ve been doing without pause.

What is the reward for credit unions for protecting their members and continuing to lend while banks pulled back? Regulations that are keeping safe and affordable products off the market and out of the hands of those who need them the most.

Your local credit union is owned by its members, and its profits go to them, not to shareholders. The more successful your local credit union, the more successful your community.

We’ve already seen knee-jerk reactions claiming this bill is yet another love letter to the big banks, and that it threatens to undo the economy’s recovery. In reality, all it threatens is the system where Wall Street thrives at the expense of Main Street.

Look at the bill itself, and you’ll see it will instead help your local credit union do better.

Through modest changes to the Dodd-Frank Act, credit unions and consumers will see barriers removed, barriers that keep more affordable mortgages off the market and small business capital diverted to pay compliance costs.

This bill means the process for getting a mortgage loan from a credit union becomes easier, making homeownership a more achievable goal for 110 million Americans.

It makes common-sense adjustments to thresholds, freeing up credit union resources while holding Wall Street accountable to federal regulators.

This bill would change the designation to certain types of apartment loans, allowing your local credit union to lend out additional capital to small businesses, bringing much needed support to Main Street.

Just as important is what the bill won’t do. It won’t make changes to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and it won’t affect important provisions and laws aimed at abusers of consumers. Those will remain in place.

And most importantly, it won’t do anything to increase the risk to an economy still recovering from the financial crisis caused by Wall Street 10 years ago.

Rather, this bill makes thoughtful, constructive, common-sense improvements to a well-intentioned law that is currently having the opposite of its intended effect.

In an age of hyperbole, blanket statements and overwhelmingly partisan rhetoric, this bill is a welcome, cooperative and nuanced approach to regulatory reform that will bring real, tangible benefits.

The senators that support it, including Sen. Tester, deserve our thanks for their hard work to put Main Street first.

And Montana’s more than 50 credit unions and more than 380,000 credit union members deserve an economy that works hard for them.

Kenyon, of Helena, is president/CEO of Montana’s Credit Unions.

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