It’s too late to do me any good. I got the notice from my bank two weeks ago that they were raising my credit card interest rate from 10.9 percent to 13.9 percent. It could have been a lot worse, or course. The credit card companies have been raping the American consumer for months with sudden and unannounced rate hikes, sometimes as much as 10 percent or more. It’s not enough that we are bailing their asses out with hundreds of billions of dollars in TARP funds from the federal government. They are now reaching straight into our pockets for the cash.
But the days of rapacious credit card companies may soon be over. In his weekly address to the country on Saturday, President Barack Obama told Congress he is tired of it, too, and he wants a bill to control credit card abuses by the end of the month.
“Americans know they have a responsibility to live within their means and pay what they owe,” he said in his radio and Internet address. “But they also have a right not to get ripped off by the sudden rate hikes, unfair penalties and hidden fees that have become all too common.”
The Credit Card Holders’ Bill of Rights has already passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate, according to the Associated Press. The president said he would like to sign it by Memorial Day.
“You shouldn’t have to fear that any new credit card is going to come with strings attached, nor should you need a magnifying glass and a reference book to read a credit card application. And the abuses in our credit card industry have only multiplied in the midst of this recession, when Americans can least afford to bear an extra burden,” Obama said.
The House bill would prohibit double-cycle billing and retroactive rate increases, and prevent companies from giving credit cards to anyone younger than 18.
Of course, this bill will have to pass the Senate before it becomes law and it probably will. But I am willing to bet that it will never get the support of the two Republican senators from South Carolina, Lindsay Graham and Jim DeMint. These ethical mites and political dinosaurs believe that the American public should be a buffet for for corporations to feast upon. But the day of Republican dominance is over and nothing could better reflect this new age than legislation to curb the credit card companies.
And now we hear President Obama talking tough about controlling the cost of health care and using the Justice Department to bust up dangerously large corporations. Yes, there is definitely a new sheriff in town.