USA är komsumtionens förlovade land. En hörnpelare i det amerikanska samhället har alltid varit att den som råkar i ekonomiska svårigheter kan gå bankrutt och på så sätt börja om i livet och få sina skuldrer avskrivna.
En ny lag som har instiftats efter stark lobbyverksamhet från kreditkortföretagen, gör det mycket svårare att gå bankrutt och lagen slår speciellt hårt mot USAs fattiga.
The legislation would impose a new means test on Americans who filed for bankruptcy protection. Those with incomes above the median for their state, and who can pay at least $6,000 over five years, would have to develop a plan to repay creditors.
Under current law, they have the option of asking a bankruptcy judge to erase their debts in return for forfeiting some of their assets. The median household income in California is about $50,000.
The new law also would require those who go into bankruptcy protection to receive credit counseling.
Democrats split on the legislation, with about one-third — six of them from California — voting with Republicans in favor of the bill.
“I believe bankruptcy should be a last resort allowing people who need protection to receive it and people who can repay all or some of their debts to do so,” said Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Walnut Creek), who voted for the bill. “Our current system isn’t good for consumers, families or a society that values individual responsibility.”
Others argued that the legislation would undermine a fundamental principle of bankruptcy law dating back centuries: that debtors, especially those hobbled by misfortune, should be given a fresh start in their economic lives. Although their remaining assets can be seized to pay debts, their future earnings should not.
The new law would “bind hardworking Americans to credit card companies as modern indentured servants,” said Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), the House minority leader.
Den nya lagen är en del i republikanernas pro-business politik som förstärker företagens makt och försvagar de svagastes position i samhället.