08 March 2005

[us_politics] I Expect Them To Bring Back Debtors Prison Anytime Now

By now it's well known that the appalling and Newspeak-ly named "Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005" will be put to a vote sometime in the next day or two on the Senate floor where, conventional wisdom says it will pass.

Thanks to this legislation, one of the biggest things you will not have to worry about is that Chapter 13 bankruptcy will be effectively elilminated for you as a refuge if lingering unemployement or catastrophic health problems beggar you utterly. Some principled stands were taken, however. Senator Durbin, Democrat of Illinios, introduced an amendment with the laudatory and reasonable aim of giving protection to servicemembers (you know, the military...the troops we all are supposed to be supporting?)

Well, that was defeated, 58 to 38. Supporting the troops is fine as something you are expected to do. When it comes to a US Senator, well...there you go.

There was an amendment, introduced by Senator Kennedy (D-Mass, or D-Hell, if you're a R) that had the aim of exempting people who were beggared by horrendous medical debt from the means test. Given that a good deal of the Chapter 13's emanate from this cause, not from spendthrifty irresponsiblity (that's the marketing angle), you'd think that that is also a reasonable thing to do. You'd be wrong, silly taxpayer. Defeated, 58 to 39.

There was also an amendment from Senator Dayton of Minnesota, that would limit the interest rate you can be charged to a measly 30%. Defeated. 74 to 24.

This is being marketed to you all as an attack on irresponsible borrowers. This is hypocrisy. Most bankruptcies aren't a result of people spending without limit and not thinking of the consequences. Rather, they are a result of a shaky economy and people having to exaust savings and credit to get through periods of unemployment and serious illness-in other words, things that can happen to any of us...you, me, anyone.

Oh, you'll sit there and think you have all your dux in ero and they won't ever come for you remember that life is perverse, and in this economy you could be out of work tomorrow. And the job you find after that will pay less and you won't have insurance. And the people who make the laws you have to live by live in a bubble where they are all prosperous and doing well and they think everybody else is that way too. I mean, it's either that, or they hate poor people and want to kick them when they're down.

And how did Oregon's only real Senator, Wyden, vote?

Well, he gets two out of three. He did not object to the usury cap.

However, in the greater scheme, he did something I admire quite a bit. The motion called cloture, which ends substantive debate on all amendments, is what essentially sets the stage for vote on the bill. And Wyden voted against cloture, which regrettably passed 69 to 31.

Follow this link to the US Senate page which lists the roll call. The yeas are the Senators who voted for you and your interests. The nays are the Senators who voted to allow creditors to roll over you until you explode like a rotten banana.

Overall I'm pleased with Wyden on this, but he'd better have a damned good reason for voting against usury caps.

And I'd suggest the lot of you go out and get second jobs to pay off those credit cards. After this bill passes, your gonads will belong to them.

Oh, and read this page at Talking Points Memo, which explains, cogently and succintly, why you should Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid[tm applied for].

1 comment:

Heidi said...

Judging from the student loan laws (compounding interest quarterly, no discharge in bankruptcy, no appeal process, fixed rates on old consolidations, interest compounding while on in-school deferment, no avenue for undue hardship - ok, yeah, I have experience - I'll still be owing money on my deathbed), debtor's prison is only one of the institutions we could see make a comeback.

Where, in all these so-called "christian" actions, are the people talking about the sin of usury? That's one bit I wouldn't mind coming back. Our nation is giving breaks to a mafia-like institution. That's a bit like raiding the social security fund to pay for a tax cut to the rich, creating a fake crisis and proposing a solution that doesn't address the problem. Oh! Right.