by Jim Hightower
If you're confused at all on the
question of who Washington serves, look no further for clarity than
the recent enactment of a "bankruptcy reform" law.
Ask yourself this: Were you the one clamoring for bankruptcy
reform? No. The vast majority of us had no idea this was even in the
works, much less that we were about to get schnookered by our president
and congress. This bill was the wet dream of Visa, MasterCard, MBNA,
Citigroup and other giant hawkers of credit cards. Having filled the
mail boxes of every American with false offers of "free credit,"
these bankers are now alarmed that so many folks have fallen behind
on payments and are having to declare bankruptcy to get a fresh start.
Rather than accepting responsibility for their own bad
business practices, the banks went wailing to Washington, demanding
that the people be banned from bankruptcy protection. "Make these
bums pay us," was the ugly chant of the banker lobbyists. Never
mind that half of the people who fall into bankruptcy do so because
they're suddenly hit with unexpected (and uninsured) medical bills,
and another 40 percent because of job loss, family death, divorce,
Instead of siding with these poor folks, Washington
has sided with the poor credit card industry an industry that
raked in only $30 billion in profits last year...and also put up millions
in campaign donations to both political parties.
One measure of how completely Washington kowtowed to
the bankers was seen in an amendment to exempt debtors from losing
their full bankruptcy protections if their financial troubles are
caused by ID theft. This can happen when thieves get hold of your
credit card numbers sometimes from the banks themselves
and milk you dry. The bankers killed this amendment, meaning that
they can be responsible for your having to file bankruptcy, yet they
prevent you from getting free of the debt they caused.
This law is a shameful piece of special-interest sleaze, and it shows who really owns Washington.
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Lets Stop Beating Around the Bush, on sale from Viking Press. For more information, visit www.jimhightower.com.
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