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Thursday, April 7, 2005 01:59 am

commentary 4-7-05

art1960

If you’re confused at all on the question of who is served by Washington, 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 that this was even in the works, much less that we were about to get snookered by our president and Congress. This bill was the wet dream of Visa, MasterCard, MBNA, and other giant hawkers of credit cards. Having filled the mailboxes of every American with false offers of “free credit,” these lenders 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 accept responsibility for their own bad business practices, the banks went wailing to Washington, demanding that bankruptcy protection for the people be banned. “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 medical bills and another 40 percent because of job loss, a death in the family, divorce, or disability.

One measure of how completely Washington kowtowed to the bankers was seen in a proposed amendment to exempt debtors from losing their full bankruptcy protection 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.

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