For decades Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief has provided family and societal stability by offering individuals who can’t pay their debts an opportunity to give up nonessential assets in exchange for a fresh start. But, credit card companies, who should be far more responsible about how they hawk those lending cards, have been pressing to undermine it.
“After nearly eight years of trying, proponents of legislation to make it harder to erase consumer debts believe it finally will pass Congress,” says Washington Post Reporter Marcy Gordon.
The Credit Card Company Empowerment Bill (search “bankruptcy abuse” or S.256) approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in a 12-5 vote on Feb. 17, “…will come out more on the side of the creditors in terms of harassing these extraordinary individuals rather than recognizing that these are hard working people,” said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. “I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that (it) is not passed in the United States Senate the way that it is.”
Please explain why three of the committee’s eight Democrats: Sens. Joseph Biden of Delaware, Dianne Feinstein of California and our own Herb Kohl of Wisconsin – voted to further empower the Republican majority, voting with them to approve this bill!
Kennedy was speaking after a discussion in Boston on veterans who are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan saying he is concerned about soldiers in the National Guard and Reserves whose businesses fail after they are called up to serve.
LA Times reporter Peter G. Gosselin says, “A stream of court cases involving credit card companies has produced public outrage in various parts of the country. In Cleveland, a municipal court judge tossed out a case that Discover Bank brought against one of its cardholders after examining the woman’s credit card bill. According to court papers, Ruth M. Owens, a 53-year-old disabled woman, paid the company $3,492 over six years on a $1,963 debt only to find that late fees and finance charges had more than doubled the size of her remaining balance to $5,564.”
When the firm took her to court to collect, she wrote the judge a note saying, “I would like to inform you that I have no money to make payments. I am on Social Security Disability. If my situation was different I would pay. I just don’t have it. I’m sorry.”
Judge Robert Triozzi ruled that Owens didn’t have to pay, saying she had “clearly been the victim of [Discover’s] unreasonable, unconscionable and unjust business practices.”
Meanwhile… “Consumer bankruptcy filings during January fell to their lowest level in four years, reflecting a 13% decline in year-ago levels,” say reporters at CardWeb.com. “Over the past year, bankruptcy is tracking nearly 4% below 2003 levels, ironically at a time when bankruptcy reforms may finally pass Congress.”