Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 11, 2005 / 2 Nisan, 5765

Bankruptcy bill or welfare for usurers?

By Debra J. Saunders

Debra J. Saunders
Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act passed by the Senate last month illustrates once again that it is easier to pass a bad bill in Washington than it is to pass a good one.

Make no mistake about it. This is a bad bill — which is why the House, no doubt, will pass this bill this week and why President Bush, to his discredit, will sign it.

The bill would make it harder for debtors to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, and push more debtors — it targets those who earn more than a state's median income — into Chapter 13, which has tougher repayment standards. That sounds fair enough — except that the Senate wasn't interested in making banks act more responsibly by dispensing with venal lending practices, such as lending money to people who have just filed bankruptcy and enticing college students with easy credit.

Consider this: The Senate rejected a measure to cap credit-card interest rates at 30 percent. Now, I ask, why should Washington want to protect lenders, who charge desperate people as much as 36 percent in per annum interest?

The lending lobby — Big Borrow-mongers — claims that it needs protections against deadbeats, who file for bankruptcy without even trying to pay off their debts. I would sympathize — if the money lenders weren't so rapacious — shameless, really — about fleecing the poor.

The National Consumer Law Center argues that consumers often want to pay off their debt, but can't keep up with lenders' late fees, penalties and exorbitant interest. The center cited the tale of Ruth Owens of Ohio. By the time Owens stopped using her credit card for purchases in 1997, she had racked up a balance of $1,963. Over the next six years, she made $3,492 in payments, but not a dime went to pay off the principal. Thanks to a 21 percent interest rate, fees of $1,518 for exceeding her credit limit and $1,160 in late fees, Owens paid the bank all that money and still owed the bank a whopping $5,564.

As the Law Center noted, Owens would have been better off if she had become a deadbeat in 1997 — if she had simply stopped paying her credit- card bill until the bank sicced a collection agency on her — instead of honestly trying to pay off her debt. Rather than helping her to work out the debt, the bank simply drove her deeper into the hole.

When last I wrote on this bill ("Don't bank on it," March 17), arguing that the federal government shouldn't bail out banks for their own bad lending practices, I received a number of e-mails from people in the credit business who agreed with me.

A minority of those in the business who e-mailed me complained that the very folks who criticize the financial-services industry for gouging poor lenders would be kicking the industry if it did not lend to the urban poor. They have a point: Consumer advocates do push banks to loan money to the often- overlooked urban poor, so that they can buy first homes and start their own businesses.

That said, I have yet to hear any consumer advocate say banks owe it to the poor to charge predatory interest rates — as high as 36 percent — as well as exorbitant late fees and over-limit penalties.

In fact, the industry's woes suggest that Washington should make it easier to file for bankruptcy, in order to protect the banks from themselves. As Travis Plunkett, legislative director of the Consumer Federation of America noted, lenders "have it within their power to control the bankruptcy rates by controlling their practices."

As a Republican, it disappoints me to say this, but I understand why people call the GOP the party of big business. When Washington pushes for more responsibility among debtors, but not loan-shark-like lenders, when its "ownership society" principles don't make big corporations own up to their role in the bankruptcy problem, the GOP is toadying to big business. (Ditto the 18 Democrats and one independent senator who voted for the bill.)

Everyone expects the House to pass the bill. Plunkett said some House members are having second thoughts, but they figure there is no advantage in voting no and displeasing a political contributing class. They figure, "Why anger the credit industry when they know they're going to lose?"

Well, there is a reason to anger the credit industry — to represent your constituents. If readers want the House to kill this turkey, they should let their congressional representative know that they oppose this bill. This bad bill probably will pass anyway, but citizens who care about good government and good business practices should at least make those lawmakers who vote for the measure sweat.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.

Debra J. Saunders Archives

© 2005, Creators Syndicate

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles