WASHINGTON – If you listen to credit union lobbyists, bankruptcy reform is long overdue and should pass for the benefit of credit unions and consumers, but not everyone sees it that way, especially when looking at the current bills. Consumer groups like the CFA, credit union CEOs like Jim Blaine of State Employees CU of N.C., and lawmakers like Ed Kennedy (D-Mass.) say current bankruptcy reform legislation is flawed for a number of reasons. Some of their reasons include the following: * Bill does nothing to reign in abusive practices of creditors. According to the CFA, revolving debt has risen from $54 billion in 1980 to $891 billion in 2004. CFA says deceptive and aggressive tactics by card companies such as targeting college students, have led to the increase. * The means-testing standard is rigid. Circumstances leading to bankruptcy cannot be considered. Things such as medical emergencies are considered the same as someone who runs up credit cards. * Given some economic problems currently plaguing the country, such as long-term unemployment for even very skilled workers and lack of health insurance for millions, timing is very bad. * Existing bankruptcy system already gives judges the power to change Chapter 7 filers to Chapter 13, ensuring they pay back at least some of their debt, and the bills would actually make it harder to get people into Chapter 13. On the credit union side, CUNA, which has been pushing for reform for years, only supports bankruptcy protection that includes all of the following components: * Financial counseling that gives debtors all the information they need to make a wise choice about filing for bankruptcy; * Reaffirmations, which allow credit union members to reaffirm (continue to pay) certain debts even after declaring bankruptcy;. * Needs-based bankruptcy reform (or means-testing) that would help weed out the abusers and ensure those who can pay will do so. So what do you think? Will the bankruptcy reform bills as currently written lead to less abuse of the bankruptcy system or will it hurt those consumers that have legitimate reasons for declaring bankruptcy. That is the subject of Credit Union Times’ latest online voting poll. The question is as follows: Do you support the current bankruptcy legislation? * No, it does nothing to curb abusive lending practices; * No, it will hurt consumers who truly need bankruptcy; * No, the means test is flawed; * No, given current economic conditions; * No for some other reason; * Yes, it will stop people from abusing bankruptcy; * Yes, reaffirmations will help protect credit unions; * Yes, it will force those who can pay to do so; * Yes, the counseling will ensure better informed consumers; * Yes, for some other reason; * Not sure Voting Poll Results: CUNA’s GAC the Must-Attend Meeting for Many

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