Spring is just about my favorite time of year in Washington. The weather warms and puts an end to the winter chill. The cherry blossoms bloom and bring new life to the city. And hundreds of community bankers swarm Capitol Hill for ICBA Washington Policy Summit meetings with lawmakers to secure a future for our beloved industry.
Serene, isn’t it? While meeting with members of Congress and regulators about financial policy is not exactly a springtime stroll through the park, it is absolutely critical to our industry’s survival. Any one of the challenges we community bankers face would have any industry reeling. Collectively, they are a mortal threat.
Our government-supported competitors—including too-big-to-fail financial institutions, credit unions and the Farm Credit System—enjoy taxpayer-funded subsidies and advantages. Meanwhile, community banks face increasing and unnecessary regulatory burdens as well as the prospect of draconian Basel III capital guidelines. Only by directly engaging policymakers can we effect needed changes to our financial and regulatory systems. That’s why we’re in Washington, today and every day—to ensure community banks can continue serving their communities as they have for generations.
This week’s summit in Washington has been a huge success, particularly with the introduction of the Brown-Vitter TBTF Act (S. 798) to combat both too-big-to-fail and community bank regulatory burdens. But community bankers do not have to be in the nation’s capital to make a difference. ICBA makes it easy for those back home to make their voices heard in Washington—all you have to do is go to our “Be Heard” grassroots website. From there, it’s easy to send an email message, make a phone call, or even tweet your member of Congress on some of the community banking industry’s top policy priorities.
So whether you are in Washington, D.C., Washington, Mo., Washington state or anywhere else in this great nation of ours, I strongly encourage you to engage in the discussions that will determine your future. This is your industry, your franchise and your responsibility. The season is here, and the outcome is in your hands.