Thursday, April 23, 2009

Obama gets it right on credit card reforms

It's enough to make you think he knows what's going on in the United States. We're talking, of course, about President Barack Obama's effort to restrict the unconscionable growth of interest rates and fees placed on credit cards used by most U.S. residents. After meeting with 13 credit-card industry executives at the White House on Thursday, Obama said he wanted to stop abuses and eliminate the "fine print" in credit-card contracts, according to the Reuters international news service. "We want to preserve the credit card market but we also want to do so in a way that eliminates some of the abuses and some of the problems that a lot of people are familiar with," Obama said. The president endorsed efforts in Congress to pass a so-called Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights, which would convert into law regulations issued by the Federal Reserve in December. The bill would prevent credit card issuers from imposing arbitrary interest rate increases and penalties. A version of the bill is pending in the Senate. Obama said he wanted the Congress to protect consumers from abuses by credit card companies as part of his effort to retool the government's regulation of the U.S. economy, which has been mired in recession. "The days of any time, any reason rate hikes and late fees has to end," Obama said. "No more fine print, no more confusing terms and conditions. We want clarity and transparency from here on out." Executives from Bank of America, American Express, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Capital One, Visa and MasterCard were invited to the meeting, Reuters said.

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