Monday, March 07, 2005

The horrible bankruptcy bill is, according to Molly Ivins's March 3 column, even worse than you thought it was. It's "genuinely loathsome."
Sure, some people who declare bankruptcy are just deadbeats, but the main reasons for bankruptcy are job loss and medical bills. (Bankruptcies from medical debts have risen 2200 percent over a twenty year period. And, by the way, having health insurance is no guarantee of safety. Three-fourths of those who go bankrupt because of medical costs have health insurance.)
Yet Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, piously pretends that irresponsibility and greed cause the majority of financial failures. Molly quotes him:
"People who have the ability to repay some or all of their debt should not be able to use bankruptcy as a financial planning tool so they get out of paying their debt scot-free, while honest Americans who play by the rules have to foot the bill."
That's a startling example of the "straw-man" school of argument. The study by the Harvard profs shows that in the two years before filing for bankruptcy, 19 percent of families went without food, 40 percent had their phone service shut off, 43 percent could not fill a doctor's prescription and 53 percent went without important medical care.
So, who are these feckless, irresponsible moochers using bankruptcy to avoid paying legitimate debts? Why, look at this: The New York Times reports "legal specialists say the proposed law leaves open an increasingly popular loophole that lets wealthy people protect substantial assets from creditors even after filing for bankruptcy."
What, our Republican Congress passing a bill that favors rich people at the expense of "honest Americans who play by the rules and have to foot the bill"? If you have a lot of money (most people filing for bankruptcy don't have this problem), you just put it in an asset protection trust and walk away.

I recommend reading the entire column.
I would also recommend that our Democratic legislators find t.v. cameras and begin pounding podiums. Let's write our Representatives, asking them to do that. Let's write the Post-Dispatch. Point out the hardships that many ordinary Americans suffer when they go bankrupt and emphasize the injustice of allowing the rich to declare bankruptcy and yet keep their assets. Legislators assume that for every letter they get, there are at least 10,000 people who think the same thing. You can speak for 10,000 people. And you don't need to sound like a professional writer, either. Just make your point clearly and simply.
If you do write, please mention it in the Comments section here. If you're so inclined, post your letter under Comments.
I'm sending this blog to Lacy Clay. I didn't succeed at finding an e-mail address for him, but here are snail mail addresses for him and Carnahan:
The Honorable William Lacy Clay, Jr.
United States House of Representatives
131 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-2501
The Honorable Russ Carnahan
United States House of Representatives
1232 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515


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