Saturday, August 20, 2005

Bankrupt nation: When Republicans wage class warfare on the middle class

Oh, yes, this is a lovely story in the Times:

Rushing to beat an October deadline when the biggest overhaul of the bankruptcy law in a quarter century goes into effect, rising numbers of Americans have filed for protection in the four months since the law was changed, seeking to have their debts erased.

Since President Bush signed the new law in April, bankruptcy filings have jumped, particularly in the heartland. Filings in the four months through July are up 17 percent this year over last in Cleveland, 14 percent in Milwaukee and 22 percent in northern Iowa, according to court filings, matching similar patterns in the Midwest and parts of the South and rural West.

Nationwide, bankruptcy filings for April, May and June were up by 12 percent over the same period last year, according to LexisNexis, the data collection service, which tracks filings ahead of the quarterly reporting done by the federal courts. The rise is coming after bankruptcy had leveled off and even started a slight decline last year.

I'm all for personal responsibility, and it's clear that spending in America -- both private and public -- is out of control, but I'm just not so sure that legislation designed to satisfy the insurance companies, and to deny legal protection to Americans who can barely make ends meet as it is, is really the way to go. Yes, people do need to spend less and save more, but how exactly are they supposed to do that when many of them are losing their jobs and facing calamitous health costs? Bankruptcy shouldn't be an easy way out, but nor should it be denied as a last-ditch recourse to responsible people who just end up drowning in debt.

It's class warfare. And, needless to say, it's wrong. Go ahead and thank President Bush (he of Andover, Yale, and Harvard education; he who was rescued time and again from business busts by Poppy's friends in Texas) and your friendly Republican-controlled Congress.

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