Voices Heard

Last week was important in the history of our wonderful free society. On Election Day, “we the people” spoke through the ballot box to retain President Barack Obama, a Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate and a Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives. Consequently, little has changed in our national political landscape.

However, many questions remain. By some accounts, nearly all of President Obama’s cabinet will turn over during his second term. Will the president shift toward the middle to lead our country in solving some of the many economic problems we have? Record debt, the “fiscal cliff” and unfunded entitlement programs all beg resolution. Slow job growth, insufficient energy systems, high agricultural prices and massive storm devastation on the East Coast add to the headaches. One has to ask, why would anyone want to be president of the United States?

In a similar, but decidedly different, version of we the people, “we the bankers” have been heard, too. The banking community has inundated the Federal Reserve Bank, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency with more than 2,000 comment letters on the topic of the proposed Basel III capital guidelines. Individually crafted letters, each focused on a bank’s given concerns, described how the proposed guidelines would negatively impact banks and consumers. Thank you!

The result: The regulators, surprised by the volume of letters they received, have indicated that they will not meet the proposed implementation date of Jan. 1, 2013. Though none of us know what a second version of the guidelines might look like, it is our hope that regulators will heed the message from various state congressional delegations — including Indiana — and from 53 of the 100 U.S. senators, and show more sensitivity to the treatment of community banks.

Two efforts, similar but different, give us some comfort that we the people and we the bankers still have a strong voice in the future of this great experiment in democracy, the United States of America!

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