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GOP Challenger Blasts Dodd on Credit Card Reform « The Washington Independent

As the Senate today continues debate on Sen. Chris Dodd’s (D-Conn.) credit card reform proposal, Dodd’s 2010 GOP opponent, former Connecticut Rep. Rob Simmons, just issued a statement asking the Banking Committee chairman a biting question: What took you so long?

Credit card reform is long overdue and if Sen. Dodd wasn’t so busy collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from big banks, credit card companies, the pay day loan industry and pawn shops we might have had reform years ago. This bill is a belated improvement on the current system, but has more to do with covering Sen. Dodd’s extremely exposed hind end than with protecting consumers.

Simmons isn’t far off here, on several fronts. Dodd has taken millions of dollars from the banks and other credit card issuers in his 34-year tenure in Washington; he’s struggling in the polls; and although he sponsored a credit card reform bill last year, he declined to hold hearings on it despite being head of the powerful Banking Committee. (House Democrats, by contrast, held a string of hearings before passing a similar bill last September.) Democratic leaders, by pushing Dodd’s bill so prominently, clearly hope to improve his public image as a way to help him keep his seat.

What’s inane about Simmon’s statement is the implication that Republicans somehow have a greater appetite for finance reforms than Dodd does – as if Congress under former Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) or former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) — (not to mention a White House under President George W. Bush — ever took seriously the concept of protecting consumers from the traps and schemes often used by credit card companies. Instead, it’s Republican senators who watered down Dodd’s bill in recent weeks, and it’s Republican senators who are right now threatening to kill the proposal, in order to protect the banks.

Simmons knows all of this. Indeed, he was a member of Congress for six years between 2001 and 2007, when the GOP was in the majority — just enough time to rack up nearly $119,000 in donations from the same finance industry he’s accusing Dodd of coddling, according to the campaign finance watchdog, Center for Responsive Politics.

Then again, if hypocrisy were a crime, the Capitol would be empty.

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