After years of lobbying, the credit card companies have gotten their wish. Today the president has signed the bank’s version of bankruptcy “reform.” Now bankruptcy won’t wipe away your debts completely. You’ll still have to make payments.
I don’t understand exactly how it works. There is some kind of means testing for payment. Now if you’re declaring bankruptcy because you lost your job and you have no money, it seems to me if you have no income, you have no means to pay your debts.
This bill is supposed to stop abuse of the bankruptcy laws, which happens. We all know people who spend money like there’s no tomorrow, rack up a mountain of debt then declare bankruptcy so they can do the same thing all over again.
But most people declare bankruptcy because of job loss, huge medical bills or both. It’s not anything they did intentionally. Lay-offs happen. Heart attacks happen. And insurance that sounds great on paper, but won’t cover any claims happens. Which has nothing to do with charging up a fortune on your Visa and forgetting to pay the bill.
Now that the credit card companies have gotten their way, I think they should take responsibility for the fact that so many people have an addiction to credit cards. Just like the conservatives are insisting on informed consent with abortion, there should be informed consent whenever you sign up for a credit card. Instead of a page of fine print that’s impossible to read, all applicants should be told by a real person that they are responsible for paying their bill every month. There will be late charges if it’s not paid on time. There will be finance charges and this is how much they will be. For example, If you spend $1,000 and you take a year to pay it off, it will cost you an extra $200. Whatever you send in goes first to cover the late charges and the finance charges and what’s left goes to the principal. If there’s a balance on your account and you keep on using your credit card to buy stuff, you’ll be charged more.
I don’t know if it will change anything, but maybe somebody out there would think twice before signing.