An issue briefing kit on the real causes of debt and bankruptcy. Intended for legislators, journalists and advocates.
In April 2005 Demos urged Congress to recognize the fragility of our debt driven consumer economy when considering the bankruptcy "reform" bill (S. 256/H.R. 685) that had been passed by the Senate and was under consideration in the House of Representatives. American families are not suffering from "irresponsible consumerism," as Senate sponsor Chuck Grassley claims, but from the effects of a stagnant economy and fraying social supports. Faced with declining real wages, job insecurity, long-term unemployment, and rising costs, American families have turned to increasingly available -- and expensive -- credit in order to make ends meet. The resulting rise in bankruptcies is an inevitable outcome for households struggling to keep up while the lending industry charges outrageous fees, high interest rates and capricious penalties. American families would be well-served if Congress addressed the widespread economic insecurity facing households, rather than close the door on this option of last resort.