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2015 GAC Conference: Obama Grasps Vital Role of Credit Unions in Broader Economy, White House Adviser Says

President Barack Obama understands the critical role credit unions play in the broader U.S. economy, Jason Furman, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told attendees March 10 at a general session of the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference.

“We know that you provide better pricing and higher quality service for over 100 million members than many of the alternatives,” Furman said. “We also know that—because of your strong ties to your communities—that your loan performance often holds up better than many of your competitors … That’s good for your members, good for your communities and, from my perspective, important to the overall economy.”

The credit union movement celebrated the 100-million-memberships milestone in August 2014. Since then, memberships have climbed to 102.3 million, according to the most recent CUNA monthly estimates.

Furman also said the administration acknowledges that ongoing financial reform has had an impact on credit unions, and he and the president are aware of CUNA’s ongoing legislative and regulatory proposals to address the challenges of reform.

“While I’ll hold off commenting on specific proposals here, we’ve always tried to strike a balance,” Furman said. “We would certainly strongly oppose changes that threaten to undermine the fundamental protections achieved through financial reform, but there may be room for appropriate regulatory relief for small institutions in some areas, and this is something we’d very much like to work with you on.”

Furman also spoke about the state of the U.S. economy, which he described as strengthening at a faster pace.

He discussed the new economic policy that the president unveiled during his State of the Union address earlier this year, called Middle Class Economics, which aims to complete the recovery, while setting the stage for even stronger economic growth down the road.

“Middle Class Economics is about an economy that grows faster, that more people share in the benefit of that economy, that more people [are] able to do everything from afford a home, pay for college, pay for childcare and have a secure retirement, and many of you in this room play a role in many of the steps of that process,” Furman said.

—Written by CUNA News Now staff and first published here by the Credit Union National Association.

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