Saturday, September 27, 2008

Creditcardholders Bill of Rights- Leveling the Field

You might think that the banking industry would have gotten the message that consumers are sick and tired of the greed and arrogance that has been so pervasive and invasive in our lives, but you would be wrong.

At the same time that the banks are lining up to get their piece of the $700 billion dollar bailout pie, they are busy condemning the House of Representatives' passage of a "Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights". HR 5244 would amend the Truth in Lending Act to establish fair and transparent practices relating to the extension of credit under an open end consumer credit plan. The resolution which passed 312-112 says "no creditor may increase any annual percentage rate of interest applicable to the existing balance on a credit card account of the consumer under an open end consumer credit plan" “existing balance defined“, "Treatment of existing balances following rate increase" and "Limitation on certain fees". It's all good for the consumers, well, as much good as we've seen from a consumer point of view in a long while.

With the current environment in the banking industry, you might think that the banks would shut up, sit in a corner like the cockroaches they are and wait for the current meltdown to pass, even for a little while.

It's no surprise that the Bush administration opposes the legislation. David Lazarus of the LA Times reports the disappointed reactions from the banking industry.
American Bankers Assn. President Edward Yingling issued a statement denouncing the move. He said the bill would "increase the cost of credit for consumers and small businesses across the country, result in less access to credit for consumers and businesses alike, and may further roil the securities markets -- all at a time when our economy can least afford it."

JPMorgan Chase & Co., "In today's turbulent economic times, consumers deserve a careful and balanced approach when considering potential changes to consumer credit and the credit card industry," the bank said in a statement. "Consumers have benefited from a competitive marketplace that allows for pricing based upon risk."
It seems that the banking industry hasn't gotten the memo that the party is over. It's time to level the playing field and give the consumer's at least a fair advantage. Wall Street needs a complete makeover and I'm glad that Congress drew this line in the sand.

The 312-112 vote was predictably on party lines with only one Democrat voting against this legislation. Wonder what Stephanie Herseth Sandlin's (D - SD) excuse was? The House has spoken, what will the Senate do for consumers? Passing the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights is the least they can do with the $700 billion bailout they have burdened us with.

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