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Congress Backs Big Banks Over People
Published on Monday, March 12, 2001 in the Madison Capital Times
Congress Backs Big Banks Over People
by Dave Zweifel
 
If you’ve been following Washington’s latest outrage --the rush to change the bankruptcy rules --you know all too well that the banks and credit card companies have lavished hundreds of thousands of dollars on our members of Congress for their votes.

And you also know that members of Congress are so enamored with the money they’ve received that they wouldn’t even consider an exemption for the poor bloke who has to declare bankruptcy because a severe medical problem took all his money.

The changes in the bankruptcy law are the quintessential example of how corporate wealth has come to control government at the expense of the average American citizen. Politicians who have the audacity to call themselves representatives of the people would rather protect corporations that make hundreds of millions in profits than the family that runs into hard times because of unexpected medical bills, the loss of income or some other uninsured calamity.

And what would be so laughable if it wasn’t so terribly ugly is to hear those politicians and their corporate sugar daddies claiming that the new bankruptcy bills will actually help the "honest" Americans with credit cards by holding down costs and, thus, interest rates.

What absolute nonsense. What outright lies.

The bankruptcy changes pushed by the GOP leadership and endorsed by none other than that "compassionate conservative" George W. Bush will push millions of more dollars into the coffers of businesses that thrive by convincing ordinary Americans to go deeply in debt and then charging them exorbitant rates to make sure they stay there.

Here’s an example:

The other night in the mail came an unsolicited check for $1,004.28 from none other than Wells Fargo Financial, a bottom-feeding finance company owned by the giant and famed Wells Fargo Bank. All I need do is endorse it on the back and use it "to pay your holiday bills or take care of upcoming expenses like taxes and insurance premiums."

Can you imagine being a single mom struggling to make the paycheck stretch to the end of the month suddenly being tempted with a $1,004.28 check? That, of course, is exactly what Wells Fargo and the other pillars of American finance are counting on.

But let’s look at the small print on the back. The interest rate this single mom will pay is 36 percent per year. That’s right, 36 percent! All she will have to do for the next 36 months is send this company -- a company that members of Congress think needs protection from those nasty poor people who might go bankrupt --a check for $46. Total cost for that $1,004.28 over three years? $1,656.

If this mom had any connections she could probably get a better deal from some Mafia juice loaner in downtown Chicago. The only difference is that Congress helps hold the gun so that Wells Fargo, MBNA and their fellow travelers can collect.

Copyright 2001 The Capital Times

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