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"And why did 'New Democrats' Ellen Tauscher, Ron Kind, Artur Davis, and Joe Crowley push this bill on their colleagues? What party do they imagine they belong to?"

 

A House Divided Against Itself:
U.S. Representatives Vote For Debt-Slavery Bankruptcy Bill 

Posted April 16, 2005 thepeoplesvoice.org

By: Evan Augustine Peterson lll, J.D.

Christmas came early this year for credit-card corporations, courtesy of Capitol Hill. After an eight-year multimillion dollar lobbying effort by financial industry giants, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed their heinous "Debt Slavery" Bankruptcy Bill (S. 256/H.R. 685) by a lopsided vote of 302-126.

The House briefly debated this important matter before voting, but speeches on both sides tended to be surprisingly simplistic, given the complexity of the bill, largely because the Republican majority leadership:
1) allowed none of the 35 amendments the Democrats had proposed to be voted on; 
2) ordered the Rules Committee to allocate only one hour -- far too little time -- for substantive debate on this complicated 500-page bill; and 
3) ordered the House moderator to rudely interrupt every Democrat when they lined up one-by-one to register their objections in brief biting statements.

When the shallow-but-acrimonious debate ended, 229 Republicans (98.7%) and 73 Democrats (36.1%) voted "YES," whereas no Republicans (0%) and 125 Democrats (62%) voted "NO." Additionally, three Republicans (1.3%) and four Democrats (1.9%) abstained. [1] 

The Senate passed the same bill in March by an equally lopsided vote of 74-25, with Senator Hillary Clinton abstaining. Now it goes to Mr. Bush for signature. It then becomes this nation's federal bankruptcy law six months from enactment. [2]

What's It All About, Progressives?

This latest in a long series of legislative defeats has caused the American progressive coalition to ask itself why Republicans are so united, and Democrats so disunited.

Democrats.com President Bob Fertik said: "We must ask: Where was [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi before today? Why did [House] Minority Whip Steny Hoyer support this outrageous bill? Why did Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid even try to take credit for this Republican bill?"

"And why did 'New Democrats' Ellen Tauscher, Ron Kind, Artur Davis, and Joe Crowley push this bill on their colleagues? What party do they imagine they belong to? Who do they think elected them to Congress?", Fertik asked. [3]

These are questions worth considering, mesdames et messieurs! If these Congressional Minority Leaders and "New Democrats" are Democrats In Name Only ("DINO s"), why do their seemingly-clueless Democratic constituents continue to re-elect them?

Progressive Democrats of America Executive Director Tim Carpenter answers thusly: "We will remember who voted against the Democratic base. Those 73 House Democrats and 18 Senate Democrats have a year in which to try to make up for this. It's hard to see how they'll be able to do it, but we'll be watching and remembering, and we'll be ready to promote challengers in 2006." [4]

And NOW President Kim Gandy said of the Republicans: "Once again George W. Bush and his Congressional enablers have rewarded their corporate allies at the expense of low- and middle-income working people, single mothers, minorities, veterans and the elderly. This bill further shreds the safety net for even the most financially troubled people. It is a reckless move for Congress to squeeze families in economic and health crises while providing loopholes for corporate executives to skirt their debts. These payouts to big business must stop immediately." [5]

Two Overarching Conclusions: Moral Bankruptcy And Deep Division.

In our bribeocratic technocracy, money talks and social justice walks. The lopsided House and Senate votes favoring this bill -- 302-126 and 74-25, respectively -- were tantamount to a joint declaration of MORAL BANKRUPTCY, because our Congresspersons knew full well that they were allowing the financial industry's predatory lending practices to continue unabated, and yet sharply limiting individual access to debt-liquidating personal bankruptcies. That might be the correct formula for winning political support from the financial industry, but it's certainly not the politics of social justice!

These bankruptcy bill votes also provide a microcosmic view of what Congress has become concerning domestic issues (international issues must be addressed separately) -- A HOUSE DEEPLY DIVIDED: 
A) the 70% majority is a Corporatist Greed Uniparty, consisting of Slavish Drone Republicans and Spineless Collaborator Democrats, who support Social Darwinist Dubya's top-down class warfare on behalf of the few filthy rich "have-mores"; and 
B) the 30% minority is a Socioeconomic Solidarity Party, consisting of Progressive Democrats and one Independent, who defend the beleaguered interests of the many just-barely-hanging-on "haves" and downtrodden "have-nots."

The Bottom Line: Political Accountability Is A Moral Value.

The philosopher Santayana admonished that "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." If Democrats really want their party's behavior to advance the interests of the American people instead of the elite corporate bribeocrats, we must hold our Representatives and Senators personally accountable for every vote cast in favor of this terrible bankruptcy bill. And that requires us to collectively remember the bitter taste of this defeat long enough to remove those Spineless Collaborator Democrats and Slavish Drone Republicans from office in 2006.

Folks, remember the Debt-Slavery Bankruptcy Bill!

ENDNOTES

[1] Every U.S. Representative's final vote on the "Debt Slavery" Bankruptcy Bill is tallied here, with Democrat names listed in italics (find out how your Representative voted):
http://clerk.house.gov/cgi-bin/vote.asp?year=2005&rollnumber=108

[2] Read these excellent articles and essays to learn more about the regressive social impact of the greedy credit-card industry's unconscionably one-sided bankruptcy bill:
    A. Marcy Gordon's 4-15-05 CHB article, "Congress Passes Stricter Bankruptcy Law" [A crucial deadline looms a half-year away for thousands of anxious Americans weighed down by credit card and other debt following Congressional passage of a measure making it significantly tougher to erase indebtedness in personal bankruptcy.]:
http://www.capitolhillblue.com/artman/publish/article_6587.shtml

    B. David Swanson's 4-14-05 DebtSlavery.org article, "Progressive Leaders Say Bankruptcy Bill Battle Is Just The Beginning":
http://elandslide.org/elandslide/issues2.cfm?id=1348&type=news

    C. NOW's 4-14-05 DebtSlavery.org article, "Bankruptcy Bill Awards Huge Payoff To Credit Card Companies": http://elandslide.org/elandslide/issues2.cfm?id=1349&type=news

    D. Evan Augustine Peterson III's 4-12-05 TPV essay, "Last Chance To Defeat Debt Slavery: House Will Vote On Unjust Bankruptcy Bill This Thursday": http://tinyurl.com/4a8av

    E. David Sirota's 4-5-05 TP article, "So You Support Usury, Senator?" [The House is getting ready to debate the Republican's phony bankruptcy "reform" bill, but Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has introduced another House bill, entitled the "Loan Shark Prevention Act," which is designed to limit usurious interest rates and prevent other unconscionable abuses by commercial banks and credit-card companies.]: http://www.tompaine.com/articles/so_you_support_usury_senator.php?dateid=20050406

    F. Marilyn Gardner's 4-4-05 CSM article, "Bankruptcy Reform Hits Women Hard" [Reports that the credit-industry authored bankruptcy bill will have a disproportionately negative impact on American women, which means it will also harm children.]: http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0404/p13s01-wmgn.html

    G. Evan Augustine Peterson III's 4-1-05 OnlineJournal.com essay, "Defeat Bush's Social-Darwinist Agenda Now: Regressive Bankruptcy Bill Will Hit Poorest Hardest": http://onlinejournal.com/Commentary/040105Peterson/040105peterson.html

    H. Michael Negron's 3-31-05 TP exposť, "Talking Points Memo: The $2 Million Dollar Flip-Flop" [Shows us how the sleazy credit industry's "campaign donations" bought off 18 US Senators so they would vote against an amendment to the phony bankruptcy "reform" bill, which would have limited interest rates to 30 PERCENT.]: http://www.tompaine.com/articles/the_2_million_dollar_flipflop.php?dateid=2005040

    I. David Swanson's 3-31-05 CD/BC essay, "Debt Slavery: What The Bankruptcy Bill Could Do To You" [A thorough explanation of the Republican's terribly unjust bankruptcy bill, its politics, and the reasons to vote AGAINST the "Debt Slavery Act of 2005."]: http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0331-33.htm

    J. Peter Gosselin's 3-29-05 CD/LAT article, "Judges Say Overhaul Would Weaken Bankruptcy System" [Bankruptcy judges can best evaluate the social impact of this bankruptcy bill, and they say its provisions will NOT reform, but rather DESTROY, personal bankruptcy law.]: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0329-02.htm

    K. The Nation's 3-25-05 CD/TN editorial, "Democrats: MIA": http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0325-28.htm

    L. Alan Maass' 3-19-05 CP essay, "Making Bankruptcy A Life Sentence: Washington's Bipartisan Gift To The Bankers": http://www.counterpunch.org/maass03192005.html

    M. Robert Scheer's 3-15-05 CD/LAT essay, "The Bankruptcy Bill: A Tutorial In Greed": http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0315-27.htm

    N. Cynthia Tucker's 3-13-05 CD/AJC essay, "Bush Cheats Those He Owes": http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0313-25.htm

    O. David Broder's 3-13-05 CD/ST essay, "A Bankrupt Senate Vote":
http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0313-30.htm

    P. Matthew Rothschild's 3-13-05 CD/TP essay, "Democrats Cave On Bankruptcy Bill": http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0313-31.htm

    Q. Steven Weiss' 3-14-05 CE article, "Money Talks" [Contributions from credit and finance corporations correlate with Senators' votes on the bankruptcy bill.]: http://www.capitaleye.org/inside.asp?ID=159

    R. Abid Aslam's 3-12-05 CD/OW article, "Bankruptcy Bill Said To Hit Poorest Americans Hardest": http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0312-03.htm

    S. RedState's confessional 3-11-05 TP essay, "An Embarrassed Republican" [A red-state Republican blogger laments his party's harsh bankruptcy bill by stating, among other things, that "This is on us, folks, and it's going to hurt a lot of people."]: http://www.tompaine.com/articles/an_embarrassed_republican.php

    T. Arianna Huffington's 3-10-05 CD/AO essay, "The Senate Opens Fire on U.S. Consumers": http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0310-22.htm

    U. Paul Krugman's 3-9-05 TO essay "The Debt-Peonage Society": http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/030905G.shtml

    V. Evan Augustine Peterson III's 3-9-05 TPV essay, "On Attempting To Justify The Unjustifiable With Scripture: Debt Slavery": http://tinyurl.com/4auhq

    W. Kathleen Day and Caroline Mayer's 3-6-05 WP article, "Credit Card Penalties, Fees Bury Debtors: Senate Nears Action On Bankruptcy Curbs" [Reports that credit-card companies regularly engage in predatory lending practices, such as bait-and-switch tactics that result in usurious 30% to 40% interest rates and astronomical $50.00 late fees. However, the Republicans' phony bankruptcy "reform" bill does absolutely NOTHING to stop these, or other, outrageous predatory practices.]: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A10361-2005Mar5?language=printer

    X. Molly Ivins' 3-3-05 CD/WFC essay, "Bad To Worse: Republicans Vote Down Military Exemption To Bankruptcy Bill, Add Loopholes For Rich": http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0303-29.htm

    Y. HLS Professor Elizabeth Warren's 2-12-05 CD/MH essay, "Sick And Broke":
http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0212-10.htm

    Z. Harvard Law School Professor Elizabeth Warren's outstanding paper, "The Growing Threat to Middle Class Families" (download it at this URL): http://www.moveon.org/r?r=690&id=5343-2553820-hfMpxYfUxKjJDNyLQkGdgQ

[3] Quoted in David Swanson's 4-14-05 DS article (see [2]A above).

[4] Swanson, 4-14-05.

[5] Quoted in NOW's 4-14-05 DS article (see [2]B above).

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About The Author: Evan Augustine Peterson III, J.D., is the Executive Director of the American Center for International Law ("ACIL"). ACIL steadfastly opposed the "Debt Slavery" Bankruptcy Bill because it would undermine Chapter 7 provisions that wisely allow desperate individuals to receive a "fresh start" -- which concretizes one important economic right within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. © 2005 EAPIII EvPeters8@aol.com

 

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