No protection in bankruptcy bill

House Republicans are pushing for quick passage of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (HR-685), which would make it far more difficult for working people to protect themselves against crushing personal debts by filing for bankruptcy.

The Senate already approved the legislation, voting 69 to 31 to end a filibuster aimed at stopping it. President Bush has promised to sign it.

Shot down was an amendment seeking to establish a ceiling of 30 percent on the interest rates the credit card loan sharks are permitted to charge. For these senators, most of them millionaires, the “sky is the limit” on usury. Doubtless it helped that the credit card companies in the past two election cycles poured $34 million into the campaign coffers of Bush, Bill Frist, Tom DeLay, and other corporate-friendly politicos on Capitol Hill.

Joan Entmacher, vice president for family economic security at the National Women’s Law Center, said, “Women will be among the hardest hit by this profoundly unfair and unbalanced bankruptcy bill.” It will impose “additional hardship on over a million economically vulnerable women and their families each year.”

The lawmakers shot down an amendment to exempt Iraq war veterans from this punitive legislation. But the bill does contain an exemption that allows millionaires to shield an unlimited amount of value in their homes and asset protection trusts and opens new loopholes for bankrupt corporations like Enron.

Last year MBNA and other credit card firms reported $34 billion in profits, highest of any industry. On the other hand, of the 1.6 million bankruptcies filed last year, fully one-half were the result of medical bills.

What’s next — a return to “debtors prisons?” Call your representative now to demand a No vote on this bill.

Tax the rich, fund social needs

Millions of American working people mailed in their income tax returns this week, and many did so with bitterness and anger. Their feelings are fully justified.

Each year, come April 15, workers are brought face-to-face with just how much money the federal government is wringing out of them, while big U.S. corporations routinely evade paying their fair share.

The corporate giants use a variety of legal and not-so-legal tax-avoidance ploys, including offshore tax havens, gross underreporting of profits, and, in cases like Enron and WorldCom, flagrant cooking of the books. Some corporations pay no taxes at all.

The super wealthy, thanks especially to President Bush’s tax cuts for those with the highest incomes, have also managed to radically cut their tax burden. They typically share the view of real estate magnate Leona Helmsley, who once quipped, “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.”

After giving billions of dollars in tax cuts to the rich and billions more to the largest corporations, the White House has the gall to claim there is no money for education, for health care, for job creation, or for many other vital social needs.

But it finds plenty of money for new weapons of mass destruction, for financing wars and occupations, and for pouring more money down the drain of Pentagon war contractors like Halliburton.

According to a recent analysis by the War Resisters League, Bush’s official war budget amounts to $427 billion a year, but that figure doesn’t include $106 billion for the military-related spending in other departments, an anticipated “supplemental allowance” of $25 billion, and an unbudgeted estimate of $85 billion for supplemental appropriations to shore up the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The huge tax giveaways to the rich and the corporations, combined with virtually limitless war spending, have spelled an uncontrolled deficit. They also spell disaster for the working class.

It’s time to turn the tables. Tax the rich, tax the corporations, end the occupation, slash the military budget and fund human needs!