Freeloaders? Is that where we’re going now? Arguing that anyone who can afford to but doesn’t buy insurance lacks personal responsibility and simply expects to be subsidized by the decent Americans who do the right thing? Or in its most horrifying expression:
Maybe we should have a national "Let Me Die" list like the Do Not Call list. That way the dogmatically selfish and risk-loving among us can have their way, and over time we'd presumably have fewer and fewer of them.
If the freeloader bit is where you want to go, have at it. And why not? It worked out pretty well in passing that little thing called “bankruptcy reform.”
The present consumer bankruptcy provisions of the Bankruptcy Code encourage debtors to avoid their financial and moral responsibilities by giving too generous relief to debtors with ability to pay some part of their debts. The cost of credit is unnecessarily increased by such relief to the disadvantage of responsible American consumers.H.R. 2500. The Responsible Borrower Protection Act of 1997, Section 2(2).
From the eight long years from H.R. 2500 through to S. 256, which was enacted into law on April 20, 2005, here’s a smattering of what its supporters said.
The Consumer Bankruptcy Reform Act is a bipartisan effort. It is a bipartisan effort which keeps the best of old law while curbing abuses. S. 1301 continues to help those who need the protection of the bankruptcy laws but implements measures to screen out those who use the bankruptcy system to avoid paying debts that they can afford to repay.
Congressional Record, Senate, p. S10091, Sept. 9, 1998, Sen. Grassley on S. 1301.
While there are multiple factors contributing to this recent surge in bankruptcy filings, the ease with which a debtor can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is surely one of them. There are certainly scattered cases of debtors running up their debt and then filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy to discharge that debt when they are capable of paying a substantial portion. The bankruptcy system should not assist debtors in evading debts they could otherwise pay … This bill takes a good initial step at limiting a debtor's ability to 'game the system' or take advantage of our bankruptcy code.Congressional Record, Extension of Remarks p. E1180, June 19, 1998, Rep. Sandlin on H.R. 3150.
This extraordinary increase [in bankruptcy filings] comes during a time of economic prosperity, not a period of recession that usually would bring more people into the bankruptcy court. Instead the increase is largely due to bankruptcies of convenience. Let me repeat that, bankruptcies of convenience.
We have the healthiest economy we have ever faced in the history of this country, yet our bankruptcies are exploding. Why? Because it is the convenient thing to do. It is the easy street. It is the easy way out.
This increase of bankruptcies of convenience is simply a ploy that is used by some people that owe money and their bankruptcy attorneys to avoid paying all or most of their debts, even though they are financially capable and able to do so.
Congressional Record, House p. H4344, June 10, 1998, remarks of Rep. McInnis on H.R. 3150.
More and more wealthy Americans are using the bankruptcy system to buy a throwaway lifestyle that they cannot afford, then expecting hard-working Americans who pay their bills each month to pick up the tab. That is not right, and Congress needs to do something about it … It is time to require personal responsibility.Congressional Record, House p. H2641-2, May 5, 1999, Rep. Dooley on H.R. 833.
Under current law, families who do not file for bankruptcy are unfairly having to subsidize those who do. This is our opportunity to do something about it.Congressional Record, Senate p. S15062, Nov. 9, 1999, Sen. Hatch on S. 625.
Too frequently, however, individuals who have the financial ability or earning potential to honor their debts are simply seeking an easy way out of repaying those debts. While this may prove convenient for the debtor, it is not fair to their friends or to their neighbors who are ultimately stuck with the bill. Those who can afford to pay their debts must honor their commitments.Congressional Record, House p. H1985, March 19, 2003, Rep. Chabot on H.R. 975.
The current economic climate necessitates bankruptcy reform now more than ever. Some individuals and small businesses in this Nation are facing severe financial hardship, hardship that may justify the need to file for bankruptcy. As a result, the bankruptcy system must be reformed to ensure that those with a legitimate need are not adversely affected by those who abuse the system.
Mr. Speaker, the hard-working families in my district in Cincinnati, Ohio, pay far more than they ought to in taxes. They do not need to incur an additional burden created by those who seek to hide from their debts. This bill holds those irresponsible debtors accountable and protects those hard-working families.
We all pay the price for these bankruptcy filings. Every bill you and I pay includes a hidden “bankruptcy tax'' of $400 per year per household. That tax is figured into in every phone bill, electrical bill, mortgage payment, furniture purchase, or car loan we pay.
For many people, bankruptcy has become a first step rather than a last resort. Opportunistic debtors who have the means to repay use the law to evade personal responsibility. In some cases, they even plan their bankruptcy, buying a mortgage and running up credit cards and then declaring they're broke.
With this bill, we are putting an end to the abuse. Wealthy debtors who have the means to pay some, or all, of their debt will be required to do so.
Congressional Record, Senate p. S2473-74, March 10, 2005, Sen. Frist, triumphantly, on S. 256.
I've pretty much kept my mouth shut on the ACA, Obama rox/sux, and myriad other controversial issues here. I'm in the Gooserock camp on the state of the Democratic party, but since we've got an important election to win, I've been keeping my mouth shut on that, too.
But this, this "freeloader" business, is a bridge too far. Professionally, five years of my life were devoted to fighting against that bankruptcy law and the constant refrain of personal responsibility and freeloaders gaming a system to the detriment of the good, hard working Americans. But I never, ever, thought I'd hear that sort of talk here.