Priming for the Primaries

Monday morning, a small group of bankers and the Indiana Bankers Association Government Relations Team met with Susan Brooks, a Republican candidate for the Indiana 5th District primary. Susan had reached out to IBA to learn more about the banking industry, the local economy and the issues we face.

Susan in an attractive candidate in a field of attractive candidates, vying for the opportunity to face presumptive Democrat candidate Scott Reske, a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives. All seek the seat held by retiring Congressman Dan Burton.

Of particular interest to Susan was our assessment of how the TARP program had worked. She also was intrigued by banker analysis of the local economy. For some time, most Indiana bankers have been in a state of cautious optimism—believing in eventual economic recovery, but that we are years away from pre-Great Recession levels of employment and business activity.

She expected to hear a good deal about the overregulation that is strangling banking’s ability to lead our country out of this economic recession. She was not disappointed. We spoke of the vast new regulations that will rain down on bankers for the next several years. We spoke of the “ideas” that have come from the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, such as the collection of Home Mortgage Disclosure Act-like data being extended to small business loans.

Last, we spent time talking about access to capital, or lack thereof, for the banking industry. This dearth comes when income opportunities are being limited by regulators and Congress, at the same time that expenses will necessarily increase to meet the new compliance requirements coming from the federal government. 

Susan completely understood the issues that we discussed. As I indicated earlier, this race has many attractive candidates. Our system of government is supposed to work like this. The primary should identify excellent candidates from each party, so that constituents are well-served, regardless of the outcome of the fall general election. May the best man, or woman, win!

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