May 9, 2009 -- Obama asks Senate and House for reform
President Obama discusses his accomplishments and future plans every Saturday morning via video. The clips are called "Your Weekly Address," and they are published on the White House's website and on YouTube.com. In the address below, Obama asks the Senate and the House for a credit card reform bill before Memorial Day. "Americans know that they have a responsibility to live within their means and pay what they owe," Obama says. "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."
May 19, 2009 -- Senate passes credit card reform Feeling the buzz of anti-bank and pro-consumer sentiment around the country, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed the Credit CARD Act, 90-5. Consumer groups applauded the Senate for the vote, which gave the go-ahead for a House vote, while many officials from the banking community said the bill would reduce credit availability. Democratic Senators Christopher Dodd, Carl Levin, Charles Schumer and Robert Menendez all spoke highly of the vote at a press conference. "Millions of Americans will benefit now that some balance of power is being restored between cardholders and card issuers," said Levin, who is from Michigan.
May 20, 2009-- The House passes credit card regulations
A day after the U.S. Senate approved credit card reform laws, the House of Representatives voted, 361-64, to approve the same legislation. The vote ensured that new credit card regulations would be signed into law, as the only thing standing in their way was a signature from President Obama. The video below describes the contents and the purpose of the bill passed by the House. It also explores the possible negative impact it could have on issuers.
May 22, 2009-- Obama signs the Credit CARD Act into law
Two days after credit card reform is passed by the House, President Obama signs it into law in the rose garden at the White House. In a ceremony, shown in its entirety below, Obama tells a sea of politicans, reporters and cardholders that "change is in the air." He thanks Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd, who co-sponsored the bill with Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, and explains why he wanted to pass the legislation so quickly. Obama also tells the story of one family's troubles with credit card debt, as the family watched from the audience.
The Credit CARD Act faced a lot of opposition on its way to becoming law. On May 11, 2009, more than a week before the Senate voted for the new legislation, Competitive Enterprise Institute President Fred L. Smith, Jr., argued with Travis Plunkett of the Consumer Federation of America on CNBC. "The only thing that could be wrong with the credit card practices is that the industry is inadequately competitive, and this is going to make it less competitive," Smith said. Plunkett saw it differently, stating that because of the uncompetitive marketplace credit card companies face, they are allowed to increase interest rates and fees at will, which he believes is unfair.
Students and credit cards
On Feb. 22, 2010, anyone under the age of 21 must have an adult co-signer or show proof that they have the means to repay the debts in order to receive a credit card. Additionally, anyone under the age of 21 must have permission from parents or guardians to increase credit limits on joint accounts they hold with those adults. The new rules do not sit well with many college-age students, as the video below shows.
Free credit reports
Section 205 of the Credit CARD Act could cause some trouble for FreeCreditReport.com. The law dictates that "any advertisement for a free credit report in any medium shall prominently disclose" that free credit reports are available at AnnualCreditReport.com. That means that the popular commercials from FreeCreditReport.com, one of which is shown below, will have to include this sentence: "This is not the free credit report provided for by federal law."
FreeCreditReport.com is not a free service. The only place to get a free credit report is AnnualCreditReport.com. After recieving complaints from consumers who thought they were tricked by FreeCreditReport.com, the Federal Trade Commission made a spoof of the website's popular commercials. The FTC went on to create its own YouTube channel, which includes another commercial spoof and other consumer-related videos.
Guns in national parks
Slipped into the Credit CARD Act is a provision that allows loaded, licensed firearms into U.S. national parks and refuges. Sen. Tom Coburn attached the amendment. Because Obama wanted the act signed into law before Memorial Day, Coburn saw it as an opportunity, Coburn's spokesman Don Tatro said. U.S. Rep. Sam Farr of California said he thought it was the most "embarrasing amendment Congress had ever passed." View the video below for more of the story.
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