The Federal Reserve and two other banking regulators are set to unveil today one of the most aggressive efforts in decades to crack down on the credit card industry, prohibiting practices such as arbitrarily raising interest rates on outstanding balances.I've been so beaten down by seven years of Bush/DeLay/Rove Republicanism that I'm willing to be happy about pretty much any advance in social justice, no matter how small. So one cheer for the Fed. However, I haven't been beaten down enough not to note that (a) these appear to be only the most minimal possible reforms, (b) they are most likely being implemented in an effort to stave off more serious efforts from Democrats, and (c) Bush and congressional Republicans have stonewalled those more serious efforts for years on end.
The proposed regulations, which could be finalized by year's end, would label as "unfair or deceptive" practices that consumers have long complained about. That includes charging interest on debt that has been repaid and assessing late fees when consumers are not given a reasonable amount of time to make a payment. When different interest rates apply to different balances on one card, companies would be prohibited from applying a payment first to the balance with the lowest rate.
Also: details matter. I'll wait to see the wording of the final rules before I uncork the champagne.