Florida’s Senator Nelson Votes Against Capping Credit Card Interest

Florida's Senator Nelson, whose party registration identifies him as a Democrat, voted against a provision in the credit card bill currently being debated in the Senate that would have capped credit card interest rates at 15% (see U.S. Senate: Legislation).

Today, one-third of all credit card holders are paying interest above 20 percent and as high as 41 percent.

We used to call that usury. Now, as Sen. Bernie Sanders noted, we call it loan sharking. But Senator Nelson is OK with that, it seems.

I wonder what sort of campaign contributions Senator Nelson gets from credit card issuers?

PS. Yes, an interest cap may mean that at the margin a tiny number of people who could pay off the short-term credit will be denied it. Compared to the large number of people stuck with an escalating debt not dischargable in bankruptcy, I think that's a net social win.

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15 Responses to Florida’s Senator Nelson Votes Against Capping Credit Card Interest

  1. Derek says:

    There’s no need to cap the interest rate. People are free NOT to take credit cards at high interest rates. This is a consumer-choice and consumer-education issue.

    You want to make it so you can’t CHANGE the interest rate on existing debt? (e.g., you can’t rack up charges at 9% and then have to pay them off at 23%) Sure, no problem, right there with ya.

    But companies have the right to set the interest rate wherever they like, and consumers have the right to tell those companies to pound sand if the rate is too high….

  2. michael says:

    I would be more inclined to agree with that if they were normal debts, treated equally in bankruptcy. But they’re not.

  3. pj says:

    i agree

  4. Big Credit says:

    Leave us alone.

  5. need_a_nanny says:

    I took out a mortgage on my home and now the bank is telling me I have to pay every month even if I’m not in the mood to pay. Please ask Mr. Nelson to regulate the banks, or my mood, either way.

    I ate at McDonalds once and it made me fat. Please ask Mr. Nelson to regulate fast food.

    I drank coffee and it kept me up all night. Please as Mr. Nelson to regulate the coffee companies.

    I stuck my finger in the electric socket and it almost killed me. Please ask Mr. Nelson to regulate the power company.

    I bought an American car and it turned out to be less reliable and of poorer quality than imported competition. Please ask Mr. Nelson to regulate the auto industry, domestic or foreign, either way. I’d prefer the Government just buy the car back from me, for more than I paid, of course.

    I tuned into AM radio yesterday and heard someone say something about Obama I disagreed with, it made me mad. Please ask Mr. Nelson to regulate political speech on the airwaves.

    I bought what I thought was a deed to the Brooklyn Bridge, I paid $1000 but it turned out to be phony. Please ask Mr. Nelson to regulate common sense.

  6. Rhodo Zeb says:

    Hmm. So let me see if I have this: Two types of debt enjoy superior status in bankruptcy: First mortgages and credit cards.

    Is that right? Nice, those lobbyists think of everything, don’t they.

    The pay-day loan industry is also due for a visit.

  7. real_world says:

    “Hmm. So let me see if I have this: Two types of debt enjoy superior status in bankruptcy: First mortgages and credit cards. Is that right? Nice, those lobbyists think of everything, don’t they”

    Your implication that only corruption explains these policies is superficial, at best. Sallie Mae loans are also exempt. The idea is that there should be no incentive to run up huge debts and then declare bankruptcy every seven years. Consider the case of a student loan. A 21 year old graduates college with 100K in debt. Why not immediately declare bankruptcy? It could easily be seven years before the need good credit to buy a house. They could simply get loan later in life through mommy and daddy. And while at college, why not run up some massive credit card bills?

    The primacy of a mortgage is an ancient aspect of our law. No bank is going to lend anyone a dime if its going to see its collateral divvied up among all the creditors. Keep in mind, the property is one thing, a deficiency judgment is another.

    I am not defending any of these industries. Consumer lenders are all pretty much slimy rackets. But there are very good policy reasons for protecting them from bankruptcy. In practice, when a person is on the brink of insolvency or actually declares bankruptcy, the credit card companies often cut deals for pennies on the dollar.

  8. michael says:

    Plenty of banks have been and will be happy to lend without the current special protection against loan modification in bankruptcy. (The bank is still a secured creditor, so their position remains pretty good.)

    Banks likely will required some more collateral, ie down payment or made more effort to check the truth of what the borrower was saying, but it won’t kill the loan market nearly as bad as they’ve killed it themselves.

  9. real_world says:

    I agree, I don’t think loan modification is a grave concern…requires no less discount than the likelihood of collecting a deficiency.

    I think the poster above me was suggesting the bank should be considered an unsecured creditor on the same level as, for example, an internet service provider.

    Also, nothing has been killed, which implies it cannot be revived (although supposedly Obama can raise the dead). The credit markets will return to rational functioning shortly.

    However, expect millions to now expect the government to provide the lifestyle they enjoyed when they were able to borrow beyond their means. How now to pay for big screen televisions? Iphones? Cruises? Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances?

    Does Obama have a sleigh with 9 reindeer and a workshop full of elves? If not, who in society will now fulfill the roll of providing the standard of living the over-borrowers have come to expect? You don’t expect those people to actually live within their means do you?

  10. michael says:

    Savings rates are up. I think this trend will endure. At least if people want to retire, it will.

  11. LEROY THORNAL says:

    Senator” thanks for standing against HR2445.

    Leroy Thornal

  12. B Crandall says:

    The problem with no cap is that the credit card companies are taking the liberty to raise their interest rates with every statement. Mine have gone from 13% to 33%. I always pay on time and always pay more than the minumum. This is highway robbery. My husband and I are both out of work for the summer. We are employed by the school district (I teach, he drives bus). This is the first year I have not been able to teach during the summer due to district finances. An attempt to negotiate a lower interest rate with my creditors resulted in despair. They were only willing to drop 1%. The companies show no remorse and practically laugh in your face.

  13. olga says:

    i wonder if we can leave without credits at all? as for me i don’t want to depend on the bank’ policies

  14. vero Parz says:

    I have been a good customer of city for 21 years, with no late payments or other negative issues on my account. Unfortunately do to a very stressful life stile I have made a mistake and overdrew my back account by $30.00 and my payment to city was returned, Yes it was my mistake and I am willing to lose my promotional rate of 4.05% but City is now charging me 26% and regardless of numerous efforts of pliding with them to lower the rate and not put me in such a distress situation. All I get is sorry we can’t help you. This feels almost illegal, and the fact that my tax dollars are use to bail out some of these company’s is almost unfair I wish I had the option to tell them “I’m sorry I can’t help you” How do I fight back? Wy is Florida Senator Nelson OK with this.

  15. Go Democrats says:

    I agree that there does need to be regulations for credit card (cc) companies. Right now there are very little regulations and CC companies are exploiting certain people. I myself pay my credit card in full every month and take very much advantage of my free airline miles every few months and a free flight back to my homestate up North. But I will happily give up my free airline flights if I am only getting them at the detriment of those who pay high interest rates and can’t get out of debt.

    However, the flip side is that people should not be allowed to get ridiculous amounts of credit. People who make $24,000 a year get 6 credit cards that amount to $50,000 in available credit. Of course they run into problems, human nature can be impulsive at times. Sometimes our impulses do not lead to lifelong problems, but sometimes they do (as with cc’s). The Senate needs to cap credit based on provable annual salary. If you cannot prove your salary (i.e. through tax returns) then your credit should be limited to a nominal amount.

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