Just as Oregon lawmakers managed to clip the wings of abusive payday lenders, it is time for Congress to neuter the shameless corporations that skin American consumers with bait-and-switch credit cards.
The truest of truisms proclaims that it is infinitely easier to get into debt than to get out of debt. There also is no doubt each person is responsible for their own indebtedness.
But personal responsibility is no match for the slick marketing techniques, fast-changing fine print and legions of expensive lawyers who lubricate the machinery of the credit card industry. Never has there been a system so calculated to lure people into financial trouble. They do it with complacency and acquiescence on the part of our elected leaders.
Lenders have long been among the most generous and polished of the many groups that warp the decision-making process in Washington, D.C. It has taken the current national economic meltdown and the prospect that it could be far worsened by possible massive defaults in the consumer credit sector to convince the Federal Reserve and Congress to act.
The Fed's proposed regulations for credit cards drew 56,000 comments, mostly from infuriated victims of companies that begin by hooking college kids, young workers and soldiers and pulling them in deeper and deeper.
These reforms are modest, for example limiting the companies' unchecked ability to take rates to near criminal levels when a payment is overlooked or a credit limit exceeded.
It was widely expected even these small-scale limitations on lenders would be diluted down to clear tea due to a hurricane of industry lobbying.
Now, with the public angry and hungry for change, Congress is finding its own sense of direction. Legislation is promised, if not this year, then next for sure. Consumer advocates hope this will steel the Fed's courage and keep its set of reforms on track.
It is time to defang the companies that suck the economic options away from millions of families with false promises.