The Senate is in the midst of a fierce battle over the future of the consumer-credit market. If you aren't watching, you should be.
While President Barack Obama and reform advocates are pushing for the sort of meaningful rules that would fix a badly broken credit market, Wall Street is pouring millions of dollars into blocking any changes that could force the industry to change how it does business. At the center of this fight is a proposal for a new consumer agency with the authority to write meaningful rules and with the teeth to enforce those rules.
Remember all those speeches you gave filled with statistics and stories about the middle-class squeeze? You spoke the truth. Wages really are stagnant, and we really are struggling to buy the basics. The core of a middle-class life--a home, health insurance, a good education for our children, the things our parents could take for granted--is rapidly moving out of reach. Debt, defaults, and foreclosures for a typical middle-class family have soared in the past four years. Every 15 seconds, one of our middle-class neighbors collapses into bankruptcy.
You already know this. Your opponent called you a pessimist for talking about it--and watched nervously when people nodded in agreement as you spoke. We elected you because we believed, “Here's a guy who gets it.”
Families with children are under assault. The assault is quiet, attracting few headlines, no congressional investigations, no knowing conversations at the office or at parties. The assault is stealthy, but the effects are profound.
This year, more families with children will file for bankruptcy than divorce. Motherhood is now the single best predictor that a woman will end up in financial collapse. And, contrary to every popular assumption, the parents who find themselves in the bankruptcy courts are not chronically poor. Rather, when measured by criteria such as occupation, college education, and homeownership, more than 90 percent of the families at the end of their financial ropes are solidly middle class.