05/05/2009 - Who owns the U.S. Senate?
Ask U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and you won't get the answer that's in the Constitution. As he told a hometown radio station last week, it's the banks who "frankly own the place."
Durbin's assessment came after 15 Democratic senators - including our own (sort of) Democrat Arlen Specter - joined all the Republicans to kill a measure that could have forestalled 1.69 million home foreclosures and preserved $300 billion in home equity. The proposal would have allowed bankruptcy judges in certain cases to reset the terms of mortgages. Even though the banks stand to lose a lot if the foreclosure crisis continues, they fought the proposal - and won.
If you are among the 80 percent of Americans who use credit cards, you probably have your own horror story of interest rates raised without notice or credit lines reduced. A study sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts puts numbers to the anecdotes: Analyzing the practices of more than 400 different credit cards offered by the 12 largest companies, it found that 100 percent of them, every single credit card, has policies that harm consumers. Pew also found that 93 percent of the cards allowed the issuer to raise interest rates at any time for any reason and without notice.
Read the full editorial The Credit-Card Wars on the Philadelphia Daily News' Web site.
Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information visit the Safe Credit Cards Project on PewHealth.org.