I've blogged several times about the Biblical sin of usury, by which lenders overwhelm borrowers and keep them in debt with excessive interest or tricks of the trade.
On Thursday, the House of Representatives, with President Obama's support, approved a bill to curb some lenders' predatory tactics. The Senate still needs to pass it into law.
The bill would stop a disgusting practice called "double cycle billing", by which credit card companies factor your last month's balance (the one on which you already paid) in with your current billing cycle's daily average balance to jack your finance charge way high (check your credit card - many of the major ones are doing this to you.)
Because South Dakota is home to some significant lending institutions, Rep. Stephaine Herseth-Sandlin (D) voted against the bill. She cited concerns about how restricted credit might hurt the struggling economy and threaten jobs in South Dakota's lending industry.
President Obama has criticized the credit card industry for using hidden fees and other tricks as profit centers. There are both "liberal" and "conservative" critiques of the these practices, as Jay Hancock points out in the Baltimore Sun:
The liberal case for credit-card reform is well known: Greedy banks victimize card users with high interest rates and outrageous fees; Congress must crack down to make the system fair.
Here is the less-known, conservative argument: Credit card complexity prevents users from making rational decisions about borrowing and spending, thus hurting the economy; Congress must intervene to make the system understandable.