Oppose Anti-Consumer Bankruptcy Bill|
2002-08-13, 5:28 p.m.
With daily announcements of corporate abuse, layoffs, and stock market dives, Congress couldn't have picked a worse time to advance a bankruptcy overhaul bill that would make it harder for ordinary Americans to escape crushing financial debt. The bill's backers, mainly credit card companies and banks, claim that the legislation will promote personal responsibility. But, while some people do go broke because of irresponsible spending, most are forced to declare bankruptcy due to unforeseeable circumstances, such as divorce, a death in the family, or a long period of unemployment. The bill would strip protection from those hit by hard times and who deserve a fresh start.
Many financial institutions are paying lip service to the idea of responsible spending, but it is their irresponsible lending practices that are partly to blame for people falling deeper and deeper into debt. Not only do many lenders entice people with home equity loans and pre-approved credit card applications, but in the 1990s, numerous financial institutions lowered their standards for approving credit, making it easy for those with bad credit to get loans (at sky-high rates) they had little chance of repaying.
It should be noted that Working Assets is a credit card provider. However, the company employs strict standards for determining credit approval and is strongly opposed to the anti-consumer bankruptcy bill.
It is ironic that at a time when so many corporations are declaring Chapter 11 to escape debt, Congress is on the verge of making it harder and more expensive to file for personal bankruptcy. The bill's progress is testament to the power of campaign contributions from the financial industry, which has spent over $10 million in the current election cycle. And, while President Clinton vetoed the harsh bankruptcy bill in 2000, President Bush has signaled his eagerness to sign it into law -- little wonder as MBNA, the country's biggest credit card provider, was the largest single contributor to his presidential campaign.
The bill was almost certainly headed to the White House until an amendment, which would make it harder for perpetrators of violence at abortion clinics to declare bankruptcy to escape fines, held up the process. Introduced by Sen. Schumer (D-NY), the amendment is the only good part of the proposed legislation but the objections of abortion foes have now stalled it. Ironically, this buys opponents of the entire bill time to lobby their senators to defeat the current legislation and support the inclusion of the Schumer amendment in a bankruptcy bill that puts the interests of consumers ahead of the financial industry.
Call to action
The bankruptcy overhaul bill would make it harder for ordinary Americans to escape crushing financial debt. Urge your senators to oppose this anti-consumer legislation.
"Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation." - Martin Luther King, Jr.