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"Additionally, this bill would make it impossible for families who've been dealt a bad hand to get a clean start. Instead, the bill actually gives credit-card companies new ways to seize our homes and cars if we get into financial trouble, and makes it much more difficult for middle-class people to qualify for a debt-liquidating personal bankruptcy."


Last Chance: House Will Vote On Unjust Bankruptcy Bill This Thursday
Posted April 12, 2005 thepeoplesvoice.org

By: Evan Augustine Peterson lll, J.D.

After a decade-long multimillion dollar lobbying effort by credit-card companies, the U.S. House of Representatives will consider implementing sweeping changes in bankruptcy law this Thursday, when it votes on the grossly-unfair "Debt Slavery" Bankruptcy Bill (H.R. 685). This bill contains 500 pages of complicated legalese written by credit-card companies that made profits of $30 billion in 2004, but are blinded by greed.

The Senate passed the same bill in March (S. 256). Nevertheless, we can defeat its advance in the House IF we contact our U.S. Representatives IMMEDIATELY.

Please call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 TODAY, between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM EST, and ask to speak with your Representative. If you can't recall your Representative's name, just give them your zipcode, and the Switchboard will connect you. And if you really like lobbying, please call once more on Thursday morning! [1]

What should you say to your U.S. Representative (it's likely that you'll end up speaking with a staff member)? Tell them that you're a constituent who wants "Representative (his/her last name) to vote AGAINST the bankruptcy bill." Moreover, "please persuade your House colleagues to vote AGAINST this terrible bill." Furthermore, "every Congressperson who sides with the credit-card companies against America's families by voting for this bill will experience NEGATIVE political consequences in 2006."

That's probably enough. However, if you'd like to mention more specific reasons, you can truthfully state that the great majority of families who declared bankruptcy last year did so because they were undergoing a major life crisis -- like huge medical bills, a costly divorce, a layoff, or a job loss -- that threw them into a downward spiral of debt. [2] And yet this wicked bill will PUNISH desperate people who are suffering from these unfortunate financial SYMPTOMS, rather than HELP them by eliminating the underlying CAUSES in our faltering economy. Folks, that's "compassionate" conservatism in a nutshell!

Additionally, this bill would make it impossible for families who've been dealt a bad hand to get a clean start. Instead, the bill actually gives credit-card companies new ways to seize our homes and cars if we get into financial trouble, and makes it much more difficult for middle-class people to qualify for a debt-liquidating personal bankruptcy.

Also consider these salient points, provided courtesy of Tom Matzzio from Moveon.org's 4-10-05 e-mail. If this unjust bankruptcy bill passes, it will :

  • Make families pay more to creditors, both in bankruptcy and after bankruptcy, so that instead of offering a clean start, a bankruptcy filing will leave families burdened by credit card debt, car loans, and continued payments to banks or to payday lenders.

  • Make it more expensive to file for bankruptcy by driving up fees so that the people in the most trouble can't afford to file.

  • Make it trickier to get through a bankruptcy so that more people will get pushed out of bankruptcy with no debt relief.

  • Make it harder to repay debts by increasing the minimum payments in repayment plans.

  • Preserve at all costs the millionaires' loopholes--special privileges that allow the super-rich to escape their debts by hiding their money in special exemptions and trusts.

You can find more talking points in the articles and essays listed below in endnote [3].

Finally, our grassroots lobbying effort can make a BIG DIFFERENCE, so please FORWARD this Action Alert to everyone on your e-mail list TODAY. And thanks very much for making that crucial telephone call to your Representative at 202-224-3121!

[1] If you're shy, you can e-mail your U.S. Representative an already-prepared constituent letter opposing the bankruptcy bill directly from these websites:
    A. http://capwiz.com/pdamerica/issues/alert/?alertid=7319731&type=CO
    B. http://www.democrats.com/peoplesemailnetwork/31
    C. http://www.workingforchange.com/activism/action.cfm?itemid=18843

[2] 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] Please read these excellent articles and essays for more facts about the terribly regressive bankruptcy bill:

    A. 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 to prevent other unconscionable abuses by credit-card companies and commercial banks.]: http://www.tompaine.com/articles/so_you_support_usury_senator.php?dateid=20050406

    B. 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.]: http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0404/p13s01-wmgn.html

    C. 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

    D. 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

    E. 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."]: http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0331-33.htm

    F. Peter Gosselin's 3-29-05 CD/LAT article, "Judges Say Overhaul Would Weaken Bankruptcy System": http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0329-02.htm

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

    H. 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

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

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

    K. David Broder's 3-13-05 CD/ST essay, "A Bankrupt Senate Vote":

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

    M. 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

    N. 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_embarra ssed_republican.php

    O. 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

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

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

    R. 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, and other, outrageous predatory practices.]: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A10361-2005Mar5?language=printer

    S. 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

    T. Harvard Law School Professor Elizabeth Warren's 2-12-05 CD/MH essay, "Sick And Broke": http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0212-10.htm


About the Author: Evan Augustine Peterson III, J.D., is the Executive Director of the American Center for International Law ("ACIL"). ©2005EAPIII  EvPeters8@aol.com



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