DFL Senate candidate Al Franken, saying that he fears a massive credit crunch will be the next financial crisis afflicting the middle class, proposed a series of changes Wednesday designed to protect consumers from soaring interest rates and predatory lenders.
Franken also accused his main opponent, Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, of failing to help those duped or forced into accepting outrageous credit terms. Coleman campaign officials disputed Franken's charges.
Franken announced his proposals after hosting a roundtable discussion at a St. Paul restaurant with four women who said they had been socked with inequitable credit schemes in a variety of circumstances.
To change the credit industry, Franken said he would back a "credit card bill of rights," crack down on predatory lenders and repeal the 2005 bankruptcy bill, which Coleman supported.
The credit bill of rights, among other things, would ban interest on late fees, require that credit applications be intelligible and mandate that credit companies disclose the long-term costs of making only the minimum payment.
Mark Drake, a Coleman campaign spokesman, called Franken's proposals "rhetoric." He said that Coleman's investigative subcommittee has exposed credit abuses, and that the senator has supported bills to stop deceptive credit practices and allow bankruptcy judges to modify adjustable-rate mortgage interest rates.