As Prepared for Delivery on March 18, 2021
It’s remarkable, and sad, that we’re still here one-year later. I admit that when my former boss in the Senate said, in January 2020 (opens new window) (You will be leaving NCUA.gov and accessing a non-NCUA website. We encourage you to read the NCUA's exit link policies. (opens new page).) , that the coronavirus would become the biggest story in the world that year, I didn’t know if things would actually get that bad. But he was right.
I have two main comments:
First, I know everyone at NCUA is focused on helping middle-class people participate in the economic recovery, especially given that the recovery has been bifurcated. On the one hand, there’s those people whose stocks and real-estate have soared in value and are more likely to be able work from home and keeping getting a paycheck the whole time, because we’re part of what’s been called the “Zoom class” of workers. Further up the financial scale, we know that since the pandemic started, places like the Hamptons and Nantucket have been packed, with the sort of people who use the word “summer” as a verb.
But on the other hand, cab drivers, factory workers and waitresses can’t work from home and they likely haven’t seen six-figure jumps in their portfolios. Not to mention, it’s also not random regarding the who has been victims of both the virus and of the lockdowns. I’m referring to the awful news around the large spike in homicides, and in relapses and overdoses, especially for those who’ve relied for years on in-person meetings for groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.
There’s also been harm to our youngest, and oldest Americans. Many children, depending on where they live and their parent’s wealth, have fallen back in their education, not to mention the alarming increase in self-harm. And, there’s major problems among the elderly, even those who didn’t get COVID. I’m reminded here of people like my father, who had dementia, folks whose cognitive abilities decline and mental health suffers without frequent in-person interaction. So, I’d just like to reiterate that as life goes back to normal, the NCUA is committed to doing its small part in boosting the have-nots.
Second, perhaps some good news. We’ve all experienced a one-year experiment in new ways of doing things and some of those things will be useful going forward. In some ways the pandemic just hit fast-forward on trends that were happening anyway, like virtual meetings, shopping online, working from home. Thus, I’ve been pleased to see that the NCUA is, just like most organizations, reviewing what we’ve learned from experiments, things like doing virtual-exams for credit unions. Maybe these new things work, and maybe they don’t. But I think we all agree that we certainly deserve some upside from this pandemic.
That concludes my comments, thank you Chairman.