Wednesday, March 25, 2009

WHO NEEDS A GUN, WHEN YOU CAN GET THE VIG?

Vigorish (noun) additional payment: any additional payment that somebody is forced to make, e.g. a bribe or interest paid to a usurer Usury, userer (noun) the act of lending money at an exorbitant rate of interest Exorbitant (noun) Greatly exceeding bounds of reason or moderation ______________________________________________________ Debating a Ceiling On Credit Card Fees Bankruptcy Bill Would Shield People From Firms' Punitive Interest Rates By V. Dion Haynes Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, March 25, 2009; D01 Seeking a new intervention for financially distressed consumers, a Senate Judiciary subcommittee yesterday heard debate on a measure that would wipe out credit card debt for people in bankruptcy.
Under current law, people filing for chapters 7 and 13 bankruptcy protection are obligated to pay credit card balances along with secured debts, such as house and auto loans. The measure is aimed at punishing credit card companies that raise their interest rates to a high level and at giving consumers who may be on the verge of bankruptcy greater leverage to negotiate better deals with those lenders. . . . "The standard credit card agreement gives the lender the power to bleed their customer through evolving and ever more crafty tricks and traps," Whitehouse said at the hearing. "Under this business model, the lender focuses on squeezing out as much revenue as possible in penalty rates and fees, pushing the customer closer and closer to the edge of bankruptcy." The bill would apply to companies that raise rates higher than 15 percent plus the current yield on the 30-year Treasury bond. That combined rate currently is 18.5 percent.
--read entire article--
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Congress is belatedly running like hell to get out in front of a curve ball they pitched to the American consumer decades ago, enabling usurious interest rates on consumer credit. Merchants don't like it, customers are victimized by it, but banks and independent credit card companies like Visa, Mastercard and American Express are in love. Who wouldn't be, when the fed rate is 1/4 of one percent and card authorizers can bump that by 72 times. Unless you miss a payment. then they bump it by 120 times and they have recently finagled past Congress the right to max all your loans (including, in some cases, mortgages) if one of your various card payments is late. Oh, and let's not forget that this same Congress that's out there pitching for you recently allowed changes in the bankruptcy laws that protect card companies more than the family silverware. No matter than banks dropped almost $75 million into the congressional pants pockets during the2008 election cycle. Over at the House Financial Services Committee, where Barney Frank is Chairman, members reaped $26 million from the finance, insurance and real estate industries just in 2008. Mark Twain had it right;
"It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress."
Meanwhile, over in the Senate, Where Christopher Dodd chairs the Senate Banking Committee, they sucked $27 million off the financial industry lollypop, again just in 2008. Not to lean too hard on Mr. Twain, but he has a thought or two on Senators as well;
"There are many Senators whom I hold in a certain respect and would not think of declining to meet socially, if I believed it was the will of God. We have lately sent a United States Senator to the penitentiary, but I am quite well aware that of those who have escaped this promotion there are several who are in some regards guiltless of crime--not guiltless of all crimes, for that cannot be said of any United States Senator, I think, but guiltless of some kinds of crime."
It will be interesting and cannot be far off in public demonstration, for crowds to appear at the Pelosi, Reid, Dodd and Frank homes, naming the numbers and demanding an explanation of how they suppose themselves to not be bribed.

* For more in-depth articles by Jim on Washington at Work, check out Opinion-Columns.com