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Jobs, jobs, jobs: Sen. Ted Cruz is all about economic growth
Thursday, March 14, 2019 7:00 AM

Ted Cruz
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz speaks to Texas credit union leaders at the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, DC.

"My number one priority is jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs," said Sen. Ted Cruz. "Jobs drive everything else. More jobs, higher wages, more opportunities. Jobs don't come from DC. They come from you—small businesses."

Cruz added, "The state with the best wage growth is Texas."

Cruz met yesterday with a full house of Texas credit union leaders during the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, DC.

Just before the meeting got started, credit unions received the news that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) had introduced an updated version of the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, which codifies the existing National Credit Union Administration regulations dictating how credit unions serve underserved communities. This was a departure from her plan to expand the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to include credit unions, and a positive step for credit unions.

Steve Gilman
Houston Texas Fire Fighters FCU CEO Steve Gilman addresses Sen. Ted Cruz about the problem of data breaches.

Max Villaronga, CEO from El Paso Area Teachers Federal Credit Union, discussed the new development with Cruz and asked about his thoughts on CRA.

"The CRA was central to the 2008 financial crisis," Cruz said. "I wouldn't support expanding the CRA. What we want is for people to have access to credit within their means. Of course, that's all based on jobs. Home ownership is critically important, but people have to be able to afford it."

Dave Bleazard, CEO from First Service Credit Union, explained the issues surrounding CECL (Current Expected Credit Loss). "One quarter of America's credit unions are going to be under-capitalized when CECL goes into effect, which would imperil credit unions' ability to serve their members," Bleazard said. "Having to set aside great reserves will limit a credit union's ability to lend to consumers and prohibit people's access to credit."

Max Villaronga
El Paso Area Teachers FCU CEO Max Villaronga asks Sen. Ted Cruz about the Community Reinvestment Act.

Cruz confessed to not being an expert on CECL or FASB, but he noted Dodd-Frank was for too-big-to-fail financial institutions, not credit unions. He wants to repeal Dodd-Frank.

He also pointed out the significance of last year's tax reform package where the credit union tax exemption wasn't on the chopping block.

Steve Gilman, CEO Houston Texas Fire Fighters FCU, brought up the issue of data breaches and privacy protections.

Cruz said data security and data privacy concerns were hugely important. He spent six years on the Armed Services Committee studying how to protect privacy. Establishing regulations when it comes to data security is a balancing act, he said. You need to have security but not be overly burdensome. He participated in artificial intelligence hearings featuring industry experts on compromised data and system vulnerabilities, and out of that he realized the issues are only going to become more important in the future.

Ted Cruz with group
An enthusiastic crowd of Texas credit union leaders meets with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz during Hill visits at the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference.

When credit union leaders did what they usually don't do—brag a bit on how their credit unions always come to the aid of their communities, such as in Hurricane Harvey, Cruz said, "I've never been prouder to be a Texan. The way our state came together was phenomenal. Party didn't matter. Democrats and Republicans worked together to help people in trouble. Nobody told them to do that. Texans just did it."

"We want to say a big thank you to our friend Sen. Ted Cruz, who supports credit unions and the good work they do in their communities, providing jobs and the means for Texans to have access to credit they might not find elsewhere," said Cornerstone Credit Union League President/CEO Caroline Willard. "We look forward to continuing our relationship with Sen. Cruz and asking for his support on credit union priorities in the future."