Debra J. Saunders

As Whitehead noted, once people enter the late-payment-penalty loop, they are "are reduced to falling down the ladder." Washington should be encouraging working families to save. As Whitehead noted, there has to be "a saving culture" that encourages working-class families to put money aside for the future, or "you're in trouble as a middle-class society."

John McCain was one of 55 GOP senators, who along with 18 Democrats, voted for the bad bankruptcy bill. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama voted against the bill, but like McCain, Obama also voted against the amendment to cap credit interest at 30 percent. Wednesday, at a roundtable on predatory lenders, Obama accused McCain of siding with the credit card-companies and faulted Washington's coziness with the predatory lending lobby.

Too bad for Obama that Wednesday was also the day Jim Johnson resigned from Obama's vice presidential search committee -- after the Wall Street Journal reported that Johnson received $7 million in below-market-rate loans from subprime giant Countrywide Financial Corp., through an informal program for "friends" of CEO Angelo R. Mozilo.

American consumers could use some friends in Washington, too. Supporters justified the 2005 bankruptcy bill as a way to discourage bad-faith borrowers who rack up big debt without paying it back. OK, mission accomplished. Now, having helped the banks, Washington should do something about rapacious bad-faith lending before there is a cascade effect across the economy. With the proliferation of predatory credit-card companies, the subprime mortgage and payday lenders, Whitehead said of the recent spate of foreclosures, "We haven't seen the end of this yet."

Debra J. Saunders

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