Obama presses for credit card reform by end of May
Thursday, May 14, 2009 7:5PM UTC
RIO RANCHO, New Mexico (Reuters) - President Barack Obama urged the U.S. Congress on Thursday to pass a credit card reform bill by the end of May to ban unfair rate increases and end abusive penalties.
"Enough is enough. It's time for strong, reliable protections for our consumers. It's time for reform that is built on transparency and accountability and mutual responsibility," Obama said at a town hall event at a New Mexico high school.
Obama said U.S. citizens currently pay about $15 billion in penalty fees each year and nearly half of American families carry a balance on their credit cards. [ID:nN14497166]
"This is America and we don't begrudge a company's success when that success is based on honest dealings with consumers. But some of these dealings are not honest," he said after being introduced by a woman who had the interest rate on her credit card triple after a mistaken charge.
"We expect to pay what's fair and not just what fattens growing profits for some credit card company," Obama said.
"I am calling on Congress to take final action to pass a credit card reform bill that protects American consumers and send it to my desk so that I can sign it into law by Memorial Day," he said.
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved credit card legislation last month, while the Senate is still debating its version of the bill. The bill could come up for a vote as soon as on Thursday if senators reach agreement on amendments.
Obama outlined four principles he said any reform measure should contain -- protection against unfair rate increases and abusive fees, clarity and transparency of terms and conditions, enough information so people can comparison shop, and accountability for abuses by credit card issuers.
Banks such as Bank of America Corp, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citigroup Inc and Capital One Financial Corp face a new set of Federal Reserve rules aimed at reining in abusive credit card practices set to be implemented by July 2010.
Some lawmakers and consumer groups complain that date is too far away, and U.S. lawmakers are trying to codify those rules in legislation.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason, writing by David Alexander, editing by Vicki Allen)