Mike Thompson Watch


Mike Thompson Votes on COPS, Credit Cards, Mortgages and the Budget

(May 11, 2009)

Congress has been busy in April, going into May. How did Mike Thompson vote on key issues?

COPS Improvements Act of 2009 Mike Thompson voted Yes, helping to pass H.R. 1139 by 342 Ayes, 78 Nayes, with 12 not voting. This act enhances the Cops on the Beat grant program, which doles out bits of money to local jurisdiction for diverse purposes mainly targetting the illegal drug trade, criminal gangs, violent crime and terrorism.

Fiscal Year 2010 Budget. Mike Thompson voted Yes on H.R. 371, a procedural vote which set the House version of federal budget for fiscal year (beginning October 1) 2010, revises the budget for 2009, and sets budget levels through 2014. This is basically the budget as written by the Democratic Party leadership. In trying to bail out their friends and keep the economy from collapsing, the budget is projected to have a deficit of $1.75 trillion in 2009 and probably about $1.25 trillion in 2010. When interest rates return to normal taxpayers will be paying about 5% interest on all that, or a mere $150 billion per year. Plus we would need a surplus in order to start paying back the principle. Why would an alleged fiscal conservative like Mike Thompson vote for such a budget? The other choice would be to trust that "capitalism," if that is what we have in the global economy today, will right itself without an injection of credit from the U.S. government. It is clear we are headed for higher taxes or continued federal deficits, and probably both, for the rest of most people's life times. The real 2010 budget depends on separate appropriations acts, so expect continued maneuvering by special interest groups to get even larger piece of the pie during this era of giveaways.

Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act of 2009. Mike Thompson voted Yes on H.R. 627, which seeks to end some of the worst abuses of consumers by the banking and credit card industry. The bill passed the House of Representatives on April 30, 2009 by 357 Yes, 70 No, and 7 not voting. Notably the practice of arbitrarilly increasing interest rates on existing balances would be prohibited. If this bill becomes law it will restore state-level protections thrown out by the Supreme Court, which previously declared that regulation of interest card rates and fees by state governments violates the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. This is a good Act, I am glad Mike voted for it, but what took Congress so long?

Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act. H.R. 1728 passed the House of Representatives on May 7, 2009. Mike Thompson voted Yes on this bill which passed 300 to 114. If it becomes law, this would end some of the worst mortgage practices of the housing bubble era. Notably it tries to prevent steering consumers to mortgages that generate large fees, rather than those that are best for the consumer. It makes it eaier to sue if a deal is fraudulent. All this and an army of lawyers might get you some justice, going forward, but laws can't be applied to past situations. Mike did the right thing with his vote on this act. Too bad this law was not passed years ago.

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Mike Thompson is the current elected member of the United States House of Representatives for California's 1st Congressional District.