Sunday, August 24, 2008

Coleman's out-of-touch record: the Bankruptcy Overhaul bill

Original Link:

by: Jeff Rosenberg

This is the sixth in a series of weekly articles exposing Norm Coleman's record on the issues. Previous articles are collected here. All data in this series comes from CQ Weekly.

First, I need to start with an admission: I said we were going to be looking at Norm's record on agriculture. But when I looked into it, there were not many interesting floor votes available on agricultural topics. And what's more, I have to admit, his record was really not terrible. In fact, I was almost feeling downright positive about Norm until I stumbled upon the 2005 Bankruptcy Overhaul bill.
The bill, with Coleman's support, create a means test tied to the median incomes of individual states to determine whether personal bankruptcy filers were able to repay some or all of their debts. That doesn't sound too bad. What's mind-boggling, as always, is some of the stuff Norm voted against.

[This one's pretty long -- more after the break]

Jeff Rosenberg :: Coleman's out-of-touch record: the Bankruptcy Overhaul bill
Norm voted FOR passage of the Bankruptcy Overhaul bill (SENATE ROLL CALL VOTE 44). But that's not the whole story. Because while the bill was on the floor, he made some mean-spirited votes against consumers and victims of credit fraud.
For instance, he voted AGAINST an amendment that would require credit card companies to issue a warning notification on monthly statements stating that a minimum payment will increase the amount of interest paid and the time it will take to repay the outstanding balance. The amendment would also require companies to disclose the amount required for the consumer to pay off the outstanding balance in three years, if no further advances are made (SENATE ROLL CALL VOTE 15). This provision would have helped educate Americans about getting out of debt at no cost to the government. Does Coleman want us to stay in debt to the credit card companies?

He voted AGAINST an amendment that would provide a homestead exemption of at least $150,000 of the equity in the property the debtor uses as a primary residence if the bankruptcy stems from medical expenses (SENATE ROLL CALL VOTE 17).

He voted AGAINST Sen. Mark Dayton's amendment that would set a 30 percent ceiling on interest rates for loans or credit cards. I can appreciate "letting the free market work," but 30 percent interest is usury. Of course, you know who interest rates that high hurt: the same people Norm has been sticking it to the whole time he's been in the Senate, those who can't afford it. (SENATE ROLL CALL VOTE 20).

The votes I mentioned above are bad, but the next two votes are just sickening. Norm voted AGAINST an amendment that would prohibit high cost mortgage lenders from collecting on their claims in bankruptcy court if they extend credit in violation of the Truth in Lending Act (SENATE ROLL CALL VOTE 22). You read that correctly -- Norm voted to allow predatory lenders engaging in mortgage fraud to collect on their illegal loans.

He also voted AGAINST an amendment that would increase from one to four years the period of time a bankruptcy court can recapture assets of corporate executives who make fraudulent transfers. That amendment would give employees and retirees a priority unsecured claim in bankruptcy for the value of company stock held for their benefit in an employee pension plan. (SENATE ROLL CALL VOTE 25). So not only did he vote against victims of predatory lending, he voted to protect white-collar criminals instead of protecting the employees they defrauded.

The bottom line: on this bill, Norm voted the same way he always has: for wealthy CEOs, and against everyone who's struggling to get by. Is that who you want representing you in the Senate?

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