Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Bankrupt Administration

From E.J. Dionne in today's Washington Post about the bankruptcy bill currently being considered in Congress:
You could make a case for this bankruptcy bill if it were narrowly focused on those who truly abuse the system. Instead, the bill sweeps away protections for worthy and unworthy creditors alike. This will make it much tougher for those who fall on hard times to escape burdens they confront through little fault of their own.

Listen to Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor and one of the most learned and powerful critics of the bill. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in early February, Warren argued that the proposal "assumes that everyone is in bankruptcy for the same reason -- too much unnecessary spending."

What does that mean in practice? "A family driven to bankruptcy by the increased costs of caring for an elderly parent with Alzheimer's disease is treated the same as someone who maxed out his credit cards at a casino," Warren said. "A person who had a heart attack is treated the same as someone who had a spending spree at the shopping mall. A mother who works two jobs and who cannot manage the prescription drugs needed for a child with diabetes is treated the same as someone who charged a bunch of credit cards with only a vague intent to repay."
And then there's the family driven to bankruptcy by a disabling workplce injury.

And the following statement could apply to any number of Republican efforts to weaken safeguards for workers or anyone else in this society that needs protection.

There is a great misunderstanding that the key fight in our politics is between friends and foes of capitalism. In fact, the battle is among supporters of capitalism who disagree over what rules should govern the market. Should the rules favor the wealthy and the connected, or should they give some protection to those who fall into distress and would like nothing more than a chance to rejoin the ownership society? If Democrats sell out on the bankruptcy bill, they will, alas, show which side they're on