NOW Condemns Congressional Efforts to Pass Discriminatory Bankruptcy Bill
Statement of NOW Action Vice President Olga Vives
April 12, 2005
This week, NOW members across the country are petitioning their members of Congress because they want to be very clear: America's pockets are being picked by the credit card industry and Congress is driving the getaway car. H.R. 685, the federal bankruptcy bill, is a gift to the U.S. credit card industry at the expense of women and their families. Unless we defeat this bill, Congress will simply become the policy arm of Visa and MasterCard — who will soon want their logos on the Capitol dome for all the money they have spent buying the votes of our legislators.
Most people filing for bankruptcy are in economic straits due to illness and large medical bills, and many of these people are part of the middle class who have lost their jobs and health insurance due to illness. Women are the fastest growing group of bankruptcy filers due to lower lifetime incomes caused in part by the wage gap and care-giving responsibilities, divorce and lack of child support and health insurance coverage. More than one out of every six mothers will be bankrupt by the end of the decade, yet these millions of women now face a possible law which will eliminate their ability to start over.
For parents who are owed child support, this bill would remove the existing payment priority which currently favors past due support, instead placing child support and alimony on equal footing with all other debts. So mothers owed support have to compete head-to-head with the credit card collection agencies — it won't be the kids who end up collecting.
The industry that passes out credit card solicitations like candy now wants to ensure that it gets paid first before other debts are partially paid, such as child support. They have perpetrated a smear campaign against people filing for bankruptcy, accusing them of cheating, being lazy or poor money managers.
In truth, this bill should be called the Credit Card Protection Act, because it downgrades or ignores the economic anguish that overwhelms people — mainly the elderly, members of the military, women dependent on receiving child support and families facing ruinous medical emergencies.
We will not let this happen without lifting a voice for women, their families and people in crisis.
###For Immediate Release
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