Saturday, May 25, 2024

Executive News: ‘It might be, it could be‘

When I was a little kid, Harry Caray was the play-by-play announcer for the St. Louis Cardinals. Harry began announcing for the Cardinals in 1945 on station KMOX. My big brother was (and still is) a baseball nut. He’s a scholar (he’s written four books on baseball), statistician, historian (inducted into the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame last summer) and an association leader (he ran the Association of Professional Ball Players of America for 25 years). He’s still my hero.

We grew up in a small town in Nebraska, where the state’s two largest rivers (the Platte and the Missouri) meet. It’s still a working man’s town, about 20 miles south of Omaha.

Photo of Roger M. Beverage
Roger Beverage, OBA President and CEO

Outside of the Omaha radio stations, we could get KOMA (out of Oklahoma City) at night, and during the day we could get KMOX out of St. Louis. So … my brother listened to Harry announce many Cardinals baseball games, and sometimes he let me listen, too. I learned how to keep score and got excited when Harry and my brother, my hero, went nuts at times.

So, who cares? Well here’s the connection I’m trying to make. Whenever the batter hit one out of the park, Harry would scream,

“There’s a drive to (left, center, right) field. It looks like it might be outta here. It might be, it could be, IT IS! A Home Run! Holy Cow!”

Those were the days, just me and my big brother listening to Harry make the game come alive, as if we were in the ball park. My soul is full of wonderful memories about how my brother made me feel back then, and how much I idolized him. I still do.

Bring it down to today. I was singularly focused on S. 2155 while we were in Washington recently. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) addressed a group of Texas bankers (who were gracious enough to invite me to join them and visit with the chairman.)

The chairman said all of the usual things he had said in the past:

‘The bill represents a ‘floor,’ not a ‘ceiling’ for banking reform.”

“There are some three dozen provisions that can be added to S. 2155 that have already passed the House and by at least a two-thirds majority vote.”

“I want to build on what the Senate has done.”

“I’m not interested in being a rubber stamp for the Senate, but I’m also more interested in substance rather than form.”

And then he said something I had not heard him say before:

“I plan to attend the signing ceremony for S. 2155 and getting one of the pens the president will use to sign the bill. I have some pens already, but my kids want them and I need to get this one for me.”
What? Did he just say the Senate bill was going to pass? He’s going to the signing ceremony? Did he say “soon” or did I dream that?

Needless to say, I was encouraged – almost giddy – as I walked out into the rain. I overheard a member of the Committee tell a friend of mine that the bill is going to pass as is, and other vehicles will be used for additional relief. Now I was really encouraged.

I didn’t want to overstate these comments when I was at dinner with a group of Oklahoma bankers that evening, so I didn’t say much, other than I was encouraged by the chairman’s comments. I’ve been disappointed so many times in the last five years when I thought we had the votes to get “something” but came up short time and again. I didn’t want to create any more false expectations.

I was/am especially disappointed because of my naiveite about Sen. Warren. I actually believed her many promises to be a “champion for community banks.” My disappointment was particularly painful as I watched her assail her Democratic colleagues on the Senate floor and misrepresent the substance of the bill time and again.

The day after I returned home, I was scanning the headlines of the American Banker. I read the story about what the chairman said to a large group gathered together with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He told them the same thing he told the Texas bankers and me a few days before, especially the part about planning to attend the signing ceremony for the bill.

If I could have, I would have danced a jig all around the office. I was crazy happy, but still thought I should dial my “crazy” back just a notch for fear of jinxing the possibility of passing the bill and sending it on to the president. So, I didn’t say much.

But then I read the majority leader and the speaker both expect the bill to be sent on to the president yet this month (May 2018)! And I have been hopping around trying to dance for the past few hours. Again, privately, and not where anyone else could see me (for a number of reasons).

I thought of my brother and Harry Caray again. The batter who’s standing in the batter’s box right now – Chairman Hensarling – is ready to hit it out of the park yet this month! And then?

“There’s a drive into left field (toward the White House). That might be outta here … It might be, it could be … ”

Holy Cow!