I was shocked at the disingenuity of Snowe and Collins' letter today in the Sun Journal attempting a defense of their votes on the Bankruptcy bill. I couldn't understand how they could argue that this give-away to the credit card industry would ensure that wealthy individuals couldn't use bankruptcy to escape paying their bills or that it provided protection for service members, veterans, and those with severe health problems.
So I did what anyone in the internet age would do, I sent an email to one of the leading bankruptcy law experts in the world, Professor Elizabeth Warren of Harvard Law School.
Her response to the letter was the same as mine. "Just when I think I have seen everything, I see something else." was the beginning of the email reply I recieved five minutes later. She couldn't believe that Snowe and Collins had voted against so many amendments that would have helped those who need it most and were now claiming to have stood up for their constituents. "And now these two senators want to claim they are HELPING the military families?" she demanded.
Jason Spitalnick, one of her law students had more to say on the subject at the TPM Bankruptcy Blog:
If Maine’s senators were genuinely interested in these protections, they wouldn’t have voted against these amendments to protect debtors with severe health problems. And they wouldn’t have fought against Senator Durbin's effort to provide broad protection to active duty service members and their families. The truth is that Snowe and Collins voted for a weak amendment that provides rhetorical cover to senators instead of providing financial cover to distressed middle class families. These same families would be better off under current law; the bill, even as amended, just makes things worse.
Snowe and Collins are engaging in the politics of deception.
Michael Negron, also of TPM:BB, labels them hypocrites.
For me the scariest part of the Senators' letter isn't the lies about standing up for our troops, veterans and the sick, it's this part:
We find it curious that of all the votes cast in Congress on a variety of issues, the Sun Journal chose to examine political contributions regarding the bankruptcy reform bill, and to Maine's two Republican senators.
Here I'll quote one of their colleagues, Senator Feingold:
What is most disheartening is that so many Senators sent here to represent their constituents, to exercise their independent judgment for the good of their States and the country, have been willing to blindly follow instructions from the shadowy coalition of groups that are behind this bill--mainly the credit card industry--and vote down even the most reasonable of amendments. It is just sad when there is no debate on amendments, no discussion, no negotiation, just an edict from outside of the Senate, and the ``no'' votes follow every time.
As David Broder put it earlier this week, "Few policy battles... draw enough public and press interest for the legislators to feel real scrutiny. Most are in a netherworld where media coverage is cursory and interest groups' pressure determines the outcome. That's how bankruptcy reform made it through the Senate"
It is only public knowledge that will prevent this kind of craven politics from occurring. I find it incredibly disheartening to see the Sun Journal attacked for attempting to bring some attention to actions by our Senators that might otherwise go unnoticed by the people of Maine. That is their job as a newspaper and they should be commended for it.
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