Back in 2005, when the credit card industry lobbyists were corralling republican and Democratic lawmakers to vote for the corporate-written Bankruptcy Bill, a bunch of Democratic lawmakers viciously attacked me when I exposed them for selling out. Now a little-noticed story exposes just how disgusting that bill really was - and how Congress's specific votes on the bill have hurt our troops serving in Iraq.
You may recall that Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) offered an amendment to the bill to preserve existing protections for troops serving in Iraq. National guardsmen, for instance, sometimes are forced to take a pay cut from their regular jobs when they are called into service and deployed overseas. Lord knows our soldiers serving in Iraq have enough to worry about - and gutting their bankruptcy protections while they were deployed was something Durbin thought was unacceptable. So did U.S. military experts. As retired Navy captain Chalker W. Brown told the New York Times months before the vote: "The last thing you want is a young sailor programming a Tomahawk missile in the Persian Gulf who is worrying about whether his car is being repossessed back home."
Those voting against the amendment included Montana Sen. Conrad Burns (R), Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine (R), Virginia Sen. George Felix Allen, Jr., Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R), Missouri Sen. Jim Talent (R), Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R) - all incumbents facing serious challenges for reelection.
Now, according to a new Pentagon report highlighted by USA Today, "As many as one in five members of the armed services are being preyed on by loan centers set up near military bases that can charge cash-strapped military families interests of 400% or more." Let's be clear - trying to take advantage of soldiers at a time of war when they are under stress is a form of war profiteering. And thanks to our bought-off Congress - it's all perfectly legal. Call the 62 Senators who voted for this amendment the Hostile Takeover Caucus - because if you can vote against Durbin's amendment to protect our troops from loan sharks, your vote can be bought on any issue. Here's hoping the senators - Republicans and Democrats - who voted against Durbin's amendment get hammered for it.