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. the rector

    First of all Timmy and the boys over at treasury who were in the private sector won't let this one get out of hand, I mean citibank is after all one of the companies considered too important to fail and if it weren't for predatory practices and many strings attached they wouldn't even be in business. Secondly a much more sustainable way to go in the age of multi trillion dollar corporate bailouts would be price controls. If the government is going to pay these guys with our money, actually our grand childrens money, then the logical next step is to exert some control over the markets, otherwise there will be no end to the handouts.

    May 9, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  2. Lori

    Credit card reform is needed. Good job Mr. President. If any Republican has a problem with this policy perhaps they would like to pay the rate hikes, penalities and hidden fees for those Americans that do have a problem with these credit card companies. The President yet again looking out for the middle class. Thank you!

    May 9, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  3. Simmy

    He has a laid back kind of humor that I enjoy....He's natural...No pretense....Effortless...He's the Man (No disrespect)....

    May 9, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  4. catmom

    Thank you President Obama. You continue to be concerned about the average person and I for one appreciate it.

    May 9, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  5. elliott

    Obama should know......he and his minions are the reason we are in this mess....

    May 9, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  6. elathia

    Control that money Obama. Socialism is his agenda. Wake up America!!!

    May 9, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  7. barking republican ankle biters

    Go get them Mr.President,they are nothing but financial rapists.

    May 9, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    yes banks can no longer rip us off. thats the guv's job

    May 9, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  9. ImagineDr

    Far too little and far too late ... since nearly all financial institutions have already acted to rate jack, reduce credit lines, raise and/or create new fees to increase their cash flow and balance statements ... most certainly usual and predictable banking behavior punishment and abuse tools to make honest hardworking people pay for their industry wide losses due to wide scale predatory practices cloaked behind contract fine print that frustrates and even causes attorney heart attacks and consumer suicides.

    Current pending Senate and House proposed laws are nothing more than a joke due to the usual same old smoke and mirror feeble PR attempts to make it appear that something meaningful is being done when is fact it is not.

    It's all a game, the damage is done! The only way to make what has been done to consumers right is to make the banks pay restitution for what has taken place these past years but then you and I know that will never happen. It's just more of the same o business as usual some nine months to a year away under a different name.

    Simple ... during a period in time the Federal Reserve has acted to stimulate the economy by reducing rates, etc., the financial institutions have acted to increase credit card rates ... makes perfect sense to get the US back on track, right?

    It is a given that in President Obama's heart he knows this to be all true, but then he is only President, and real change in Washington will never take place. I guess that is why its called politics?

    The only thing in common between the banks and consumers is we all got really big raises!

    May 9, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  10. Sara from Arizona

    I agree, these credit card companies are out of control. Loan sharks. People are down and out and they steal millions from taxpayers, i.e., Bank of America and then they turn around and raise interest rates.

    May 9, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  11. tjaman

    This can't come soon enough for me. I've had my present card for years. I do carry a balance, but I've kept current with my payments since I opened the account.

    I was "informed" my rates would be increasing in a mass of boilerplate 10 pages thick in 8 point type single-spaced that came out in October, with no indication that anything had changed, even - it was almost exactly like the annual statement they always send out (except for a couple of numbers somewhere in the middle).

    When the January bill came due my revised finance charges triggered YOWZA! overlimit fees and service charges close to $100 extra above my usual payment, and I know I'm not the only one who had some sticker shock.

    Anyone who thinks the current regs have _human beings_ in mind, I hope you're medicating that OCD. Credit card companies need to play fair and deal honestly with their customers.

    May 9, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  12. Dwayne

    It's really about time that someone stepped up to these money-hungry, price-galging vultures. That's why I don't own credit cards. As long as you remain in dept, you'll always have someone there breathing down your neck, getting in your personal business, with their hand out making threats on your personal assets including but not limited to your credit. If you need bad credit you certainly don't need credit cards to get started.

    Credit cards only compound your worries.

    Look, I know CNN won't post this because that's what media does...edit for ratings (well to keep the FCC off their backs too), but hey when you're controled by the government you're very limited as to what you can say and do if you want to put bread and milk on the table for your family. I still love you CNN. It's such a sweet misery. :-)

    May 9, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  13. Al Paul

    you are the best.

    May 9, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  14. dace

    Exactly their reign of financial terror is only expanding. I just got a letter from B of A stating that based partially on credit history review they are lowering my credit from 32K to 15 K. I have a credit score near 800, never missed a payment in 35 years, have perfect credit, and have never had a negative remark on my credit. It is outrageous they say it is based on my credit history. I never use the card I do not carry any credit card debt – but at least they should tell the truth – B of A sleaze ball liars do not want the risk so they damage my credit. They have no accountability and can do anything they want without limit.

    May 9, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  15. Macie Bailey

    It's about time!! Thank God for President Obama, a man of integrity that finally puts a stop to this madness of the credit card companies. I will never get out of debt because of the finance charges alone!! And now, when you make a payment well above the minimum, the credit card companies are decreasing my line of credit.... it is killing my credit score!!
    I hope Obama put's a law in place to stop this too...

    May 9, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  16. Concerned

    Will congress really fall for this urgency game play again or will they actually read what they are going to vote on this time?

    May 9, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  17. TCM

    This almost sounds like a good idea; however, as usual with Obama, what's the ulterior motive? What is the other hand doing while we all watch him wave the credit card in one hand? Just like the Fly over he ordered, and sacrificed someone's career for his photo of the SOL reopening....you must remain wary of this most polarized and mistrusted leader of our time. Some how, his supporters are going to get money from this credit card legislation, and strenghten the liberal base...count on it...it just hasn't been discovered yet. However, if you look back at ANY action of Obama's there's not one where he didn't reap some reward for minorities or liberal supporters. His agenda doesn't have the best interest of the country in mind.

    May 9, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  18. anita

    well, joe, the vp, biden must be buying time for the credit card industry.
    why rates would dramatically increase on customers that always pay on time and rarely carry balances over a thousand.

    and why not reform effective now, not 2010?

    all things granted by government are served on a platter of taxpayer expense

    May 9, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  19. BOA Credit Card Victim

    I was not able to pay a month payment and Bank of America started calling me 13 times a day with unkown numbers. They (the system) leaves voice message if you don't answer the call. I informed BoA my situation when I was paying bills in time and requested I may not able to pay after a month or two.

    Didn't government have any regulations against this kind of torture from Bank of America?

    May 9, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  20. BOA Credit Card Victim

    Bank of America is the most UNETHICAL bank system in this world.

    May 9, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  21. BOA Credit Card Victim

    The unknown calls start at 8:16AM and end in between 8:15PM-8:30PM. Even they call on Saturdays and Sundays too.

    In this economic crisis where a normal person can stand and survive with this phone TORTURE.

    May 9, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  22. The Truth

    How about ; to be fair and transparent we actully take the time to read and understand what Congress quickly comes up with this time?

    May 9, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  23. Brian in AZ

    Obama can't talk about high interest rates, cross-generational debt, and hidden fees. His budget's depending on those very things. Congress won't outlaw predatory monetary practices because it'd put Obama out of business!

    May 9, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  24. The Truth

    You're crying to the very people that just took over these banks via the porkulus packages. Will you never learn.

    May 9, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  25. Clifford in New York

    This is one area this Republican is 110% behind President Obama on! These credit card companies are ABSOLUTE crooks! Go get 'em Mr. Obama!!

    May 9, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
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