Allyson Schwartz extends her middle finger to PhillyI am stunned. Say what you want about our Congressional delegation, but generally, they vote the right way. However, on the most awful, repugnant, disgusting, anti-consumer legislation to come up in the Congress in years, Allyson Schwartz voted with the credit card companies, and against the thousands upon thousands of Philadelphians struggling to get by. Amazing. There are few pieces of legislation in Washington as disgusting as this one, and few that are so nakedly blunt tools for awful companies to hurt people with. (Bob Brady and Chaka Fattah voted the right way.)
The Bankruptcy Bill is a law that makes your skin crawl. It was written by the credit card companies, for the credit card companies. There was no ground swell of support for the law, just the desire of some very rich corporations to assume control over the lives of single mothers who fall ill, soldiers whose financial fortunes fall apart when they are overseas, parents who lose their job, and the elderly who struggle with high payments of everything. It truly is disgusting. So, do me a favor Rep. Schwartz, next time you come to Philly for one of your photo-op's on social security, and pat yourself on the back for all the haaaaarrrrrd work you are doing in D.C., leave me out of it. You represent no Philadelphian. Only yourself.
John Edwards, former candidate for VP, gets it, and says it a lot more eloquently than me:
Like a lot of Democrats, I voted for a bankruptcy reform bill before. I can't say it more simply than this: I was wrong.Never, and I mean never, will I vote for Allyson Schwartz for anything. The darling of Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill showed her true colors. Unfortunately, instead of red, white and blue, we saw her allegiance: green.
The bill is supposed to crack down on irresponsible borrowers. That's the right thing to do. The problem is that this bill imposes big burdens on families who did everything right but went broke just because they lost a job or lost their health insurance. And, even more than the legislation I supported, this bill doesn't crack down on the real abusers.
Two million Americans go bankrupt every year, but you might never know it. People keep it to themselves. They're ashamed about what has happened to them. But they aren't alone-these families are our neighbors, our brothers, our friends. And I've listened to so many people tell me how their life was on track until hardship hit. Thanks to Professor Warren, we now know that half of families going broke suffered illnesses or high medical costs.
These men and women want to pay their own way, but they can't. They can't because the hospital wants $135,000 to cover the heart operation and the plant just cut back their hours. They can't because the bank is about to foreclose on a predatory loan unless they can pay $40,000 in 48 hours. They can't because they lost their job and now the electric company wants a few hundred dollars more just to turn on the lights.
This bill won't do anything to give struggling families more security. It will only make it harder for good and decent people to start over. The new means test that will mean hundreds of dollars in new legal fees for families who barely have money to put food on the table.
If we want real reform, we shouldn't punish every hard-working family looking for another chance. But we should get serious about the biggest abuses.
In some states, a multimillionaire CEO can drive his company into the ground, declare bankruptcy, and still keep his mansion-tennis court, Jacuzzi, and all. The 2001 bill at least stopped that by capping the "homestead exemption" at $125,000. This bill will allow many multimillionaires to protect their mansions if they plan ahead.
We've also seen the credit card companies and predatory lenders become more aggressive. Today, many Americans have seen their interest rates triple to 29% or higher-not because they missed a payment, but just because they lost a job and needed another loan. Many more Americans are losing their homes because lenders have hidden points and fees in their loans. These companies are making billions by kicking people when they're down. This bill does nothing to stop them.
Unfortunately, we know what the outcome today is going to be. But that doesn't mean we should give up the fight-it means we have to fight harder. If we want to stop bankruptcies, we need to address their real causes, like rising health costs. We need to stop the abuses by the credit card companies and the predatory lenders. We need to make sure all families, and especially those who are poor, can build their savings and assets so they have some security if something goes wrong. It won't be easy, but it can be done. That's what being American is about--standing with people who are struggling to do right, and taking on anyone who tries to take advantage of them.