Obama pushes for curbs on credit card issuers
RIO RANCHO, N.M. - President Obama urged Congress yesterday to quickly send him legislation ending abusive credit card practices. But his appeal also included a stern warning to shoppers whose eyes are bigger than their budgets.
"There's no doubt that people need to accept responsibility," Obama said at a town hall. "This is not free money - it's debt and you should not take on more than you can handle."
Still, the event's main purpose was to lobby Congress from afar to make it harder for credit card companies to increase interest rates precipitously, charge unfair late fees, or impose other impossible conditions on consumers.
With Obama demanding a bill on his desk by Memorial Day, the House has approved legislation containing some of the protections Obama seeks. A slightly different version is pending in the Senate.
Both measures would ban interest rate increases on previous balances in most cases, and require that customers be given 45 days notice before their rates are increased. The bills also would deter companies from giving a credit card to minors.
The American Bankers Association has warned senators the measure could backfire by restricting credit for consumers at a time when they need it. The industry also argues that new rules by the Federal Reserve, scheduled to take effect in 2010, address many concerns. Obama doesn't believe those rules go far enough to fix the problem.
A document obtained by the Associated Press shows the plan being developed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee would also require employers to offer coverage to their full-time workers, or pay a percentage of their payroll to the government.
The three-page summary, tracking what President Obama has outlined, is a first look at where House Democrats are headed as leaders try to meet a goal of passing an overhaul by the end of July. The Senate is working on its own version.
The summary does not include any cost estimates, but independent experts have put the price tag for such a plan at $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion over 10 years.
The Energy and Commerce plan would build on the current system in which employers, government, and individuals share responsibility for the cost of insurance. But it would make major changes in the way Americans get and pay for coverage. The subsidies for insurance would be offered on a sliding scale to those earning up to four times the federal poverty level, or $88,200 for a family of four, according to the document.
The company has previously run into trouble taking inspiration from the Obama family. The company released two dolls resembling the Obama children as part of its Ty Girlz collection but retired the names "Marvelous Malia" and "Sweet Sasha" after first lady Michelle Obama said it was inappropriate. The dolls were renamed.
Ty Inc. introduced the stuffed animal April 16, two days after Bo the Portuguese water dog made his White House debut.
The doll's suggested price is $4.99. It auctioned yesterday on