Enough is Enough!

As the Senate prepares to take up legislation on credit card consumer rights, Sen. Bernie Sanders compiled a booklet culled from more than 1,000 letters and e-mails he received about outrageous interest rate hikes, bait-and-switch tactics and other consumer abuses. Among the e-mails sent to the senator was one from a person in northern Vermont who pleaded, "Please don't let the credit card companies abuse us anymore...I cannot afford

As the Senate prepares to take up legislation on credit card consumer rights, Sen. Bernie Sanders compiled a booklet culled from more than 1,000 letters and e-mails he received about outrageous interest rate hikes, bait-and-switch tactics and other consumer abuses. Among the e-mails sent to the senator was one from a person in northern Vermont who pleaded, "Please don't let the credit card companies abuse us anymore…I cannot afford to have my hard-earned money wasted on increased interest rates. Please stop them now." A man in Redondo Beach, Calif., wrote that interest rates on several of his cards were just jacked up. "They all claim they have to do this because, in essence, times are tough.' Really? Times are tough? They are a lot tougher for the American people, specifically for the vanishing middle class, for the unemployed, and for retirees on very fixed incomes, like us. This is obscene! This is usury!"

Another Vermonter wrote, "I, like so many others, am appalled at the hikes in credit card rates! Everywhere in our small town in…Vermont, everyone is talking about the latest surge in interest rates. People who are never late in payments have seen their rates climb overnight," another person wrote. "The outrage, which I am sure doesn't surprise you, is building. Doesn't anyone get it?"

Said Sanders: "People are outraged at having to pay 25 or even 30 percent interest on their credit cards - especially at a time when their tax dollars are bailing out the large banks that issue those credit cards."

Legislation moving through Congress would make it harder to raise rates without warning. It would discourage bait-and-switch tactics that banks have used to lure customers with zero interest come-ons while hiding what they really plan to charge you in small-type legalese. "I am for that legislation, but it's not enough," Sanders said. "In order to protect the American people and our small businesses, we must pass a national usury law."

Sanders introduced legislation that would extend to all consumer loans the 15 percent limit Congress set three decades ago on credit union interest rates. Like the law regulating credit unions, Sanders' bill would give the Federal Reserve Board the flexibility to adjust the rate cap if it determines that the safety and soundness of lenders are in jeopardy.

"I realize the odds are against us," Sanders said. "Over the last decade the financial sector has invested more than $5 billion in purchasing political influence in Washington. This includes funding some 3,000 lobbyists and huge amounts in campaign contributions. Do we have the courage to stand up to them? We have to try," Sanders said.

For a printable copy of the booklet, click here.

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