Card Associations Push Changes on Bankruptcy
McConnell, Bill, American Banker
Visa U.S.A. and MasterCard International have hired the Smith-Free Group to lobby for new bankruptcy laws to prevent consumers from shirking their debts.
The lobbying firm, whose chairman is former Comptroller of the Currency James E. Smith, will press Congress to expedite court appeals and to limit the ability of debtors to shelter expensive homes and luxury assets from bankruptcy proceedings.
With consumer bankruptcy filings rising at alarming rates, the two credit card associations are pushing the judiciary committees to hold hearings soon.
Lawmakers had been expected to wait until at least October, when the National Bankruptcy Review Commission is due to release recommendations on revamping rules governing consumer and business debt. But Lamar Smith, Visa's director of government relations, said delay will hurt the industry.
"This is far too important for Congress to wait until next October," Mr. Smith said.
The two card associations reported losses of $8.5 billion last year due to bankruptcy filings, $2.5 billion of which they attributed to fraudulent claims.
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Bank lobbyists, there's no need to call your senators-they'll probably be calling you. Seven Banking Committee members are up for reelection in 1998-some of them among the Senate's most aggressive fund-raisers and others among the most desperate for cash.
Three panel members, including Chairman Alfonse M. D'Amato, rank among the senators with the biggest war chests, while two others are on the low end of the fund-raising scale.
Sen. D'Amato, already the Senate's No. 1 fund-raiser with $6.8 million on hand at yearend, figures to redouble his efforts in an attempt to turn around dismal poll numbers. …