Congressional lawmakers of both parties have found something to agree on: The credit card industry, they say, has evolved beyond the scope of regulations intended to protect consumers, and it requires reining in. Where they differ is how to do it.
House Democrats are pushing legislation -- the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights, sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) -- that would force card companies to disclose looming rate increases, eliminate confusing fees and cease the retroactive application of hiked rates to existing balances. Republicans, siding with the banks, prefer to leave the task of reform to federal regulators, who are in the process of crafting new rules for the industry.
The debate highlights the difference in each party's approach to business oversight, as lawmakers aim to modernize federal rules governing the highly influential banking industry. It also illuminates the limits to what congressional Democrats, who hold a thin majority in both chambers, can accomplish in the face of a White House unabashed about killing Democratic proposals, even when they enjoy popular support. In fact, if Maloney's bill does reach the president's desk this year, supporters expect he would veto it.