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Obama’s Credit Card Principles

As we’ve had beaten into our heads, President Obama met with executives from the largest credit card companies this afternoon, urging cooperation on a number of consumer-friendly reforms that Democrats hope to enact this year (even if they don’t go into effect for 14 months more).

The White House just shot out the list of principles that Obama hopes to see in the final bill:

Strong and reliable protections for consumers – protections that ban unfair rate increases and forbid abusive fees and penalties.

All the forms and statements that credit card companies send out have to have plain language that is in plain sight. No more fine print, no more confusing terms and conditions.

Requirement that all firms make their contract terms easily accessible and provide consumers with the information they need to go online and do some comparison shopping. It also means requiring firms to offer at least one simple, straightforward credit card that offers the strongest protections along with the simplest terms and prices.

Increased accountability in the system, so that we can hold those responsible who do engage in deceptive practices that hurt families and consumers. This will require beefing up monitoring and enforcement, and also penalties for any violations of the law.

Nothing shocking there.

The House is set to take up a credit card bill on the floor as early as next week — with some White House sponsored amendments expected to be offered during debate. That bill is likely to pass without much resistance (84 House Republicans voted for the same bill last year). In the Senate, where a similar bill barely squeaked out of the Banking Committee last month, success is much less certain. Indeed, protectionist Democrats like South Dakota’s Sen. Tim Johnson and Delaware’s Sen. Tom Carper have a history of voting with the famously regional credit card issuers, leaving consumer advocates all but certain that the Senate bill will need a good deal of watering down to pass the upper chamber.

Time will tell how much Obama’s meeting today sways this whole process.

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