Moments ago, Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic proposal to freeze credit card rates on existing balances through the holiday season. The bill, sponsored by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), would prevent credit card companies from hiking rates and fees on existing balances until the industry reforms passed by Congress earlier this year take effect. Although a few provisions of that law took hold in August, most don’t launch until February or August of 2010. In the meantime, many card companies are hiking rates and fees to beat the law.
“The industry has tried to make one last grab at their customers’ pocketbooks,” Dodd said, just before asking for the consent of Republicans to pass the bill unanimously.
No dice. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) objected “on behalf of several senators on this side of the aisle.” There’s no word yet which other lawmakers he was referring to.
These people are sticking up for credit card companies who are gouging their customers during the holidays in the middle of a recession! What do they have to do to provoke some outrage from the Democrats, gun down Tiny Tim? (Of course, the Republicans would simply say they were defending their constitutional right to bear arms.)
Honestly, this should provoke a Democratic outcry of epic proportions because it's good policy and it's good politics. They missed the boat by failing to draw attention to the fact that the Republicans blocked the unemployment insurance extension for over a month but this issue is hitting both the employed and the unemployed, all across the country. It's a perfect example of the "give them and inch and they'll take a mile" attitude of the banking industry and jamming the Republicans for helping them do it would go a long way to getting the public to understand that for all the GOP harping on spending as the cause of the downturn, they are helping their rich buddies shaft average Americans every step of the way when it comes to actual policy.