Obama wants to fix “access to credit.” Being from the government, he’s there to help. Demurring politely, Congressman Scott Garrett (R.-NJ) explains the problem, closing with a politic sentence that has a key word missing:
I am a strong advocate for Access to Credit Reform, and I believe we need to ensure that government actions don’t cause greater problems in the marketplace and result in the restriction of credit availability for all consumers. [Italics added]
The key word is “but,” replacing “and” before “I believe.”
This is typical politic talk (he is a politico and has to negotiate) — downsizing the objection, refusing to give it the highlighting it deserves. It comes after he has said what’s wrong with this foolish, if not execrable meddling by legislators.
This [reform] bill [to be considered next week] has the potential to reduce investment in the marketplace, increase rates and fees for all credit card holders, and restrict credit availability.
Problem: Legislative meddling drives out capital, further “tightening in marketplace liquidity,” and raises rates for all, “regardless of their level of credit risk.”
It can, he said — it will: why wouldn’t it? — make credit less available for all. It’s supposed to protect borrowers with bad credit history, but it makes it harder for them and everyone else to get it.
Obama wants it, and that’s my most scarifying headline, in today’s Chi Trib:
President Barack Obama seeks crackdown on credit card rate, fee hikes: President wants crackdown on rate, fee hikes; industry defends practices as necessary
or, in hard copy, p-1, four columns, above fold:
Obama takes aim at ‘unfair’ credit card fees, practices: Industry likely to launch strong opposition
In the latter, Chi Trib leads with Wilma Erwin and her “surprise and anger” at the raised rate of her Discover Card and Thomas Charles Kenniff, who carries no balance but had his available credit “slashed nearly in half” by Bank of America.
Fie on those nasty lenders! Make them lend at lower rates to help Wilma! Make them lend more to Thomas Charles!
So speaks Obama:
“There has to be strong and reliable protections for consumers, protections that ban unfair rate increases and forbid abusive fees and penalties,” Obama said after a White House meeting with credit card company executives. “The days of any-time, any-reason rate hikes and late-fee traps have to end.”
Can he be sued for abuse of power? Maybe some well-financed court case that will tie up his lawyers and call witnesses to the stand. Obama could call Wilma Erwin to the stand. A jury of her peers could decide it.