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Obama to hold credit card town hall meeting this week

Spotlight on credit cards comes as Senate debates legislation

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President Barack Obama will hold a town hall meeting to discuss the credit card crisis and push for Congressional passage of credit card reform measures during a May 14 stop in New Mexico, the White House said Friday.

The town hall is the latest example of the White House using its influence on a hot-button issue that affects millions of American families. During his May 9 weekly video address, Obama urged Congress to pass pending credit card legislation so he can sign it into law by Memorial Day.

"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," Obama said. "You shouldn't have to fear that any new credit card is going to come with strings attached."

He added: "The absues in our credit card industry have only multiplied in the midst of this recession."

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Friday there's a "strong desire to get something done on an issue of tremendous importance to middle class families and that is to rein in some of the excesses and some of the abuses that we've seen from credit cards over the past many years." Gibbs said: "For many people, credit cards provide an opportunity to finance purchases, but we think there' s a more equitable way to do that. Those reforms are on their way through Congress."

The U.S. Senate is expected to begin debate Monday afternoon on a compromise credit card amendment co-sponsored by Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd and his GOP counterpart Sen. Richard Shelby.

Dodd sponsored The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (or Credit CARD) Act (S. 414) -- a tougher Senate version of the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights, which passed by an overwhelming 357-70 vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on April 30. Senate passage was less certain, however, until Dodd and Shelby worked out a bipartisan compromise. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid praised the Dodd-Shelby legislation.

"It's a very important piece of legislation. It's bipartisan in nature," Reid said.

The legislation in both the House and Senate largely mirror sweeping new federal rules scheduled to take effect July 1, 2010. The bills also include additional consumer protections endorsed by the White House that call for transparency, fairness in billing and marketing, disclosure and oversight of credit cards. Lawmakers said they wanted to codify the federal rules into law so they would be more difficult to revise.

The Obama town hall is planned for Thursday morning in Albuquerque as part of a trip that includes a stop in Tempe, Ariz., for a college commencement speech.

You can listen to Gibbs' press briefing on C-Span.

See related: Feds: Close rate-hike loophole in new credit card rules, House OKs Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights, House committee OKs Cardholders' Bill of rights, Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights passes 1st legislative hurdle, Federal banking regulators finalize sweeping rule changes for credit cards, House again weighs Cardholders' Bill of rights, What the new credit card rules mean for you, New credit card rules don't cover business, corporate credit cards

Published: May 10, 2009


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