When researching the Democrat Senators that voted for the Bankruptcy bill, I found that the Senators from Delaware were the top recipients of campaign cash from the Finance/Credit Card industries. And I found that neither of them had any press releases explaining their votes for this bill.
Today, Senator Joe Biden finally gave a reason for the vote he took as he responded to the charge that Jonathan Chait had made in his column, When Democrats Join the Dark Side. (via Dkos' dday) Biden's letter to the editor castigates Chait for not realizing that this was a well-balanced bipartisan bill.
In his zeal to attack the bankruptcy reform bill, Jonathan Chait's March 4 commentary, "When Democrats Join the Dark Side," mischaracterizes the legislation. In 2001, a similar bill passed the Senate 82 to 16. The provisions affecting consumer bankruptcy were identical to those Chait criticizes.
At the outset, I refused to support bankruptcy reform until fundamental changes were made. I fought to establish a "safe harbor" for those below their state's median income. I also insisted on a provision requiring lenders to post a clear warning about the dangers of making minimum monthly payments, one of the worst debt traps for consumers.
This bill establishes unprecedented protections for child support and alimony, making bankruptcy part of the enforcement system for women and children, who now will be at the head of the line, in front of every other creditor. Is this bill perfect? No. But over several congresses it has earned the kind of bipartisan consensus only balanced legislation can achieve.
Oh, gee, isn't that nice? The bill is a peach of a bill with all kinds of protections for consumers who find themselves in trouble. All those little gems stuffed in this bill like the fact that credit card companies can charge rates that would make the mafia loan sharks look like pikers. Some Democrats found that little credit card company giveaway a bit hard to swallow.
According to David Broder writing about this terrible bill, it was the Delaware Senators who balked at any amendments that would have stopped some of the worst abuse companies use when filing bankruptcy.
Even more instructive was what happened when a staunch conservative, Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, tried to put a little balance into the bill.
As attorney general of Texas, Cornyn said the notorious Enron bankruptcy case "opened my eyes to a very real abuse in the current bankruptcy system," the loophole that allows corporations to go "judge-shopping" for jurisdictions with permissive standards. Enron, which had 7,500 employees in Houston, filed for bankruptcy in New York, where it had 57 workers, because New York, along with Delaware, is known as being lenient on big business.
Congress recently passed a law restricting plaintiffs in class-action suits from judge-shopping in the state courts, and Cornyn argued that it should also require corporate bankruptcy cases to be filed in their principal place of business. Citing cases of Polaroid, K-Mart, WorldCom and Enron, he said the judge-shopping loophole "serves to unfairly enable corporate debtors to evade their financial commitments, (and) it badly disables consumers, creditors, workers, pensioners, shareholders and small businesses from pursuing and receiving reasonable compensation from bankruptcy proceedings."
No one rose to dispute Cornyn. So what happened? He withdrew the amendment, without a vote, "out of respect to the managers of this bill who say that amendments to this bill would endanger its ultimate passage."
A Cornyn spokesman told me the bill sponsors said his amendment would cost them the support of the two Democratic senators from Delaware — that favorite haven for big business.
So when Joe Biden comes around asking for your support for his presidential run in 2008, let him know that you'd be happy to support him as much as he's supported us. In other words, go jump in a lake, Joe.Posted by Mary at March 14, 2005 12:13 AM | Economy | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |