May 9th, 2009
12:46 PM ET
4 years ago

Obama says there's 'no time for delay' on credit card reform

President Obama says there must be strong and reliable protections for consumers.
President Obama says there must be strong and reliable protections for consumers.

(CNN) - President Obama urged Congress to quickly pass a credit card reform bill so that he can sign it into law by Memorial Day.

“It is past time for rules that are fair and transparent,” the president said in his weekly radio address.

“Instead of an ‘anything goes’ approach, we need strong and reliable protections for consumers. Instead of fine print that hides the truth, we need credit card forms and statements that have plain language in plain sight, and we need to give people the tools they need to find a credit card that meets their needs. And instead of abuse that goes unpunished, we need to strengthen monitoring, enforcement, and penalties for credit card companies that take advantage of ordinary Americans,” he said.

While Americans have a responsibility to live within their means, they also have “a right to not get ripped off” by rate hikes, penalties and hidden fees, Obama said.

“You shouldn’t have to fear that any new credit card is going to come with strings attached, nor should you need a magnifying glass and a reference book to read a credit card application,” he said.

The House has already passed a bill targeting credit card rate hikes and fees, and the Senate is expected to vote on its version of the measure in the coming week.

Obama said there are some signs that the economy is recovering, but “we are still in the midst of a deep recession that was years in the making, and it will take time to fully turn this economy around.”

“We need a durable and successful flow of credit in our economy, but we can’t tolerate profits that depend upon misleading working families. Those days are over,” he said.

Full transcript after the jump

Remarks of President Barack Obama

Weekly Address

Washington, D.C.

Good morning. I want to briefly share some news about our economy, and talk about the work that we’re doing both to protect American consumers, and to put our economy back on a path to growth and prosperity.

This week, we saw some signs that the gears of America’s economic engine are slowly beginning to turn. Consumer spending and home sales are stabilizing. Unemployment claims are dropping and job losses are beginning to slow. But these trends are far from satisfactory. The unemployment rate is at its highest point in twenty-five years. We are still in the midst of a deep recession that was years in the making, and it will take time to fully turn this economy around.

We cannot rest until our work is done. Not when Americans continue to lose their jobs and struggle to pay their bills. Not when we are wrestling with record deficits and an over-burdened middle class. That is why every action that my Administration is taking is focused on clearing away the wreckage of this recession, and building a new foundation for job-creation and long-term growth.

This past week, we acted on several fronts. To restart the flow of credit that businesses and individuals depend upon, we completed an unprecedented review of the condition of our nation’s largest banks to determine what additional steps are necessary to get our economy moving. To restore fiscal discipline, we identified 121 programs to eliminate from our budget. And to restore a sense of fairness to our tax code and common sense to our economy, I have asked Congress to work with me in closing the loopholes that let companies ship jobs and stash profits overseas – reforms will help save $210 billion over the next ten years.

These important steps are just one part of a broad effort to get government, businesses and banks to act more responsibly, so that we are creating good jobs and making sound investments instead of spending recklessly and padding false profits. Because American institutions must act with the same sense of responsibility and fairness that the American people aspire to in their own lives.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in our credit card industry. Americans know that they have a responsibility to live within their means and pay what they owe. But they also have a right to not get ripped off by the sudden rate hikes, unfair penalties, and hidden fees that have become all-too common in our credit card industry. You shouldn’t have to fear that any new credit card is going to come with strings attached, nor should you need a magnifying glass and a reference book to read a credit card application. And the abuses in our credit card industry have only multiplied in the midst of this recession, when Americans can least afford to bear an extra burden.

It is past time for rules that are fair and transparent. That is why I have called for a set of new principles to reform our credit card industry. Instead of an “anything goes” approach, we need strong and reliable protections for consumers. Instead of fine print that hides the truth, we need credit card forms and statements that have plain language in plain sight, and we need to give people the tools they need to find a credit card that meets their needs. And instead of abuse that goes unpunished, we need to strengthen monitoring, enforcement, and penalties for credit card companies that take advantage of ordinary Americans.

The House has taken important steps toward putting these principles into law, and the Senate is poised to do the same next week. Now, I’m calling on Congress to take final action to pass a credit card reform bill that protects American consumers so that I can sign it into law by Memorial Day. There is no time for delay. We need a durable and successful flow of credit in our economy, but we can’t tolerate profits that depend upon misleading working families. Those days are over.

This economic crisis has reminded us that we are all in this together. We can’t prosper by putting off hard choices, or by protecting the profits of the few at the expense of the middle class. We are making steady progress toward recovery, but we must ensure that the legacy of this recession is an American economy that rewards work and innovation; that is guided by fairness and responsibility; and that grows steadily into the future.

Thanks.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. Mike in MN

    I agree with most of the reforms. But it is certain to result in tighter credit to consumers. There will be less credit available to low income consumers and smaller balances available to middle class consumers. I think this is good, less people will be able to get in over their heads. But it will slow economic recovery and growth for a while until people get in the habit of saving and purchasing with cash.

    May 9, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  2. M

    "Americans have a responsibility to live within their means."
    Yeah. And the RESPONSIBLE Americans DO. The 5th generation welfare leeches who have been taught that they are ENTITLED to get free this and free that without working for it–that is taking honest taxpayer money and giving it to people who, hand to God, will actually wear Gucci to pick up their welfare checks. That's taking food out of the mouth of hard-working Americans–that is theft, pure and simple.

    People blame Bush for the recession–Obama included. (That was most of his campaign platform–although most of his campaign was based on "Look how black I am, you must vote for me or be branded a racist.") Well, I have news for you. The economy was starting to get better. After 9/11, people stopped flying, which hurt airline industry, hotels, restaurants, and tourism–which in turn, affected employment. Tada, economy takes a turn for the worse.

    I have NO doubts that this is yet another attempt by Obama to control our money even more. Remember–if the government controls your money, your housing, and most importantly, your freedom of speech; they OWN you. As in USSR, fascist, throw-you-in-the-gulag-if-you-disagree, OWN YOU.
    This is not a presidency. This is a Reich in the way-too-swift making. I can't believe how people are handing back their freedoms hand over fist to people who use the Constitution for toilet paper–in exchange for nothing more than pretty words.
    Come on America, wake up! We've been had by con artists!

    May 9, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  3. J.C.

    Credit card companies have gone way too far with its greed and deceptions. If the deadline for payment is today, the credit card company such as Barclays cannot tell customers that the actual closing time for payment is 7 PM of the due date after fact and then charge $29 for missing 7 PM by 1.5 hours on a balance of less than $200. Why should we, the taxpayers bail these crooks out?

    May 9, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  4. elathia

    Democraps are just plain idiots. Go out and work if you need something. Quit trying to have the government give you everything. What a bunch of lazy worms. Socialism on the rise. Wake up and smell your own coffee. I'm tired paying for yours.

    May 9, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  5. Ted

    I am on the fence on this. The credit card companies hate people like me because I pay the cards off every month and never have a balance and I also have no idea what the interest rate is on my cards as I don't care. The interest rate could be 50% for all I know. But for the many that have lived outside of their means and carry a balance, cut the cards up and use cash. that is the only way they will get it under control. Figure out the difference between needs and wants and pretty soon the balances will disappear. Our economy should not be built on consumers buying a lot of stuff today and not paying for it for years. That is just stupid. I think Obama has more important things to do than do much meddling in credit cards.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    May 9, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  6. Tony P.

    This is what happens when we elect a President who doesn't "brown nose" Coporate America litke 99.9% of the Refiblicans in office we've seen.......because Lobbyists and PACs have traditionally purchased a Coporate President who could care less about the hard working middle class...

    May 9, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  7. Larry from RI

    Look what side the right wingers are taking on this one!

    Are they so vile and full of hate that they just automatically put down whatever their new president does?

    Or do they support the criminal racketeering that these credit card companies are committing against consumers every day?

    Either way, they are on the wrong side of the issue – AGAIN!

    May 9, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  8. Doug

    It sure seems like this could have been avoided a long time ago, if people had READ the paperwork they signed when applying for a credit card. It's plain and simple–the card companies state that they can change the terms of the agreement whenever they want to, however they want to do it. Shouldn't that be a warning flag, at least? If people had refused to deal with companies that claimed they could change contractual terms whenever they felt like it, those companies would either be out of business, or giving us a better deal!

    I'm definitely NOT on the side of the credit card companies. I just wish that the sheep-herd of American consumers would use good judgement and strict budgeting.

    May 9, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  9. brenda

    Dace – I am in your situation as well. I have had the same card over 10 years, rarely carry a balance, never a late payment and my credit score is also over 810. I was recently informed by BofA, that my limit was being reduced from 25K to 15K, due to the "history of card use", i.e. I don't use the card much and not making them money. If anyone knows about how credit scores are determined, that reduction in my limit resulted in a loss of credit rating. Amazing.

    May 9, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  10. william gair

    Credit card companies have been ripping off the consumer for many years. Anyone who denies this is as crooked as they are.

    May 9, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
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