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Public Statements

Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act of 2009

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC


CREDIT CARDHOLDERS' BILL OF RIGHTS ACT OF 2009 -- (House of Representatives - April 30, 2009)

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Mr. ROSKAM. Mr. Speaker, we are here today because we are having a national conversation about credit, and it is a conversation that has had an impact on each and every one of our congressional districts. It doesn't matter where we are from, it doesn't matter what our background is, credit is inextricably linked to our success as a country.

So here we are, and we have got sponsors who have worked hard, and I want to take my hat off to the sponsors and to the chairman of the committee for taking on a very, very serious work. There are some good things in here, there are some good things in the underlying bill, but I think there is a weakness, and I want to point out the weakness and offer a suggestion.

This is not a ``gotcha'' amendment. This was an idea presented to the Rules Committee, and, unfortunately, it was sort of swatted aside. I think it was a little bit misinterpreted, and that's disappointing. But the great thing about this process is you get another shot at the title. So here we are and we have another opportunity to consider this idea. Here is what it says.

Notwithstanding everything that is in this bill, it doesn't matter what you have been told about it, what has been represented to you, what kind of talking points, what kind of hearings you have heard, what kind of testimony, let's face it, if this falls short and it has an adverse impact on small business, then we have failed. If this has an adverse impact on the biggest job creators in our economy, then we have failed.

So my attitude is look, we all, all of us, talk about how important small business is, how important the entrepreneur is, how important the self-employed are. But ultimately, if we are passing legislation that has an adverse impact on that group's ability to get credit, we have failed.

So what this amendment says, it says, look. What the motion says is take a good hard look at the bill, but hit the pause button, and here is why. Let the Fed look at this, do a study that says it is not going to have an adverse impact on small business.

``Small business'' is a term of art, one that we can all come around. It is not meant to sneak up on anybody. It is not meant to overly characterize anything. But what it says is do the credit card changes, if you will, but make sure we are not having an impact on the small person.

Now, why is this important? Why should we be thinking in terms of a pause button right now? And I want to give you three examples where we cumulatively voted on things that have been presented in one way and they have turned out very differently.

Remember during the bailout debate last fall, remember the drumbeat, the pounding sort of, that pulsing feeling on the House floor and that sense of urgency of you got to pass it, you got to pass it, you got to pass it? Well, what is in it? I don't know, but just pass it and it is all going to be great.

Well, it didn't work out so well. Credit markets haven't been restored and we are still limping along months later.

Remember during the stimulus debate, when we heard from the White House that if we pass this, unemployment was going to peak at 8 percent, the birds were going to be chirping, it was all going to be great and that was going to be the high mark in terms of unemployment? That didn't happen to turn out that way, and we are already at 8.5 percent or beyond.

And most recently in the budget figures we heard represented in the Ways and Means Committee, that the Budget Committee heard, this is what we were told in terms of projections: That real GDP was only going to shrink by 1.2 percent this year. But already this quarter, this last quarter, it is down 6.1 percent.

Now, why do I bring those numbers up? They are important because they are indicators of mischaracterizations of things.

So when people say we are going to fix this credit card situation, my reluctance, and I think the reason there is a little bit of reluctance out there is the suggestion that there is going to be no cost to it and it is all going to be great and it is all going to be roses, and what I am suggesting to you today is that if we fail to protect small business, then we have failed.

Now, you will hear that the NFIB has endorsed it, and endorsed it they have. The NFIB has endorsed it, and I think in fairness to the NFIB, they have looked at it and they have thought it is okay.

But we can do better. We have an opportunity to raise this to a higher standard. We have a chance today with adopting this simple motion to say it is all well and good, but let's make sure the Fed checks this out and comes back affirmatively.

Now, you might hear there is a study, Congressman, in the bill already. And I would suggest to you that the way the study in the bill is already crafted, it is a retroactive study, right? So it says within 3 months, 6 months of the acceptance date, we need to move forward.

You know what you need to do, and you know we need to do it.

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