"I think bankers are more sinned against than sinners, but that's to be expected considering who I am," says Charles Daniel.
Daniel is scheduled to be elected today as new president of the D.C. Bankers Association, taking office as his industry braces for a year of controversy.
Daniel's first defense of his industry will come next week when the D.C. City Council holds hearings on the industry's employment practices.
"There are already three agencies regulating and gathering this information. I don't know what more they expect to find," said Daniel, who is president of Union First National Bank of Washington.
In an interview at the association's annual convention here, Daniel was careful to avoid directly criticizing the City Council. Bankers are counting on the Council to take action on what they regard as two of the greatest "sins" against them - the District of Columbia's usury law and gross earnings tax.
The bankers have the support of the Metropolitan Washington Savings and Loan League, which met here two weeks ago, on both issues.
The financial industry hopes to replace the gross earnings tax, which is based on their total volume of business, with what amounts to an income tax on profits.
At very least, banks and S&Ls are asking the Council to extend the present, "temporary" 10 percent interest usury ceiling permitted in the District. The temporary ceiling has been in effect for four years but the limit will revert to 8 percent if it is not extended.
Daniel said bankers would prefer to see the law thrown out entirely and will urge the Council to eliminate what he called "quirks" that now create inequities.
One such quirk involves boat loans. The law exempts boat loans of up to $25,000 from the limit, but loans for bigger boats are not exempted. That means, Daniel said, that a person who busy buys a $10,000 runabout has to pay a higher interest rate than the person who borrows more than $25,000 to finance a yacht.
Because of another quirk that the banks want to eliminate, they can charge 10 percent interest on home mortgages but only 8 percent on unsecured personal loans. The mortgages are a safer loan for the bank to make, but he interest rate doesn't reflect that, Daniel added.
He said bankers would prefer to eliminate the interest ceilings altogether because they are forced to compete for funds with financial institutions outside Washington where there are no such limits.
The City Council will not be the only court in which Daniel will plead the banking industry's case this year. The Federal Reserve Board will be called upon again to establish a Federal Reserve bank branch in Washington.
Daniel said the push for a Federal Reserve facility reflects an effort to focus attention on the growing importance of Washington's financial community. Eliminating the need to take transactions to the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank or is branch in Baltimore, would also reduce the operating costs of D.C. banks, Daniel claimed.
Total despits of banks in the Washington metropolitan area are over $11 billion, for greater than in many cities that already have Federal Reserve banks or branches, Daniel said.