From Balloon Juice, we find that the Republicans have decided that little things like a category 4 hurricane, a city being devastated, being forced to go to a another city and live on the charity of others and the like just ain't enough reason to allow some wiggle room in the Credit Company Beneficiary Act, otherwise known as Bankruptcy "Reform".
But House Republicans, who fought off a proposed amendment that would have made bankruptcy filings easier for victims of natural disasters, said there was no reason to carve out a broad exemption just because of the storm.
Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, rejected the notion of reopening the legislation, saying it already included provisions that would ensure that people left "down and out" by the storm would still be able to shed most of their debts. Lawmakers who lost the long fight over the law, he said, "ought to get over it," according to The Associated Press.
You may remember Sensenbrenner as the man who took his l'il gavel and sulked away during a Patriot Act hearing.
Those who try to beat the Oct. 17 deadline in hopes of filing under the less-onerous current law may find it impossible to do so, because residence rules generally require that individuals seek protection against creditors in their hometowns. (Assuming people in New Orleans can find their lawyers and records, they can file for bankruptcy protection in their bankruptcy court, which has reopened and is sharing space with another court in Baton Rouge.)
Moreover, most people displaced by the storm will probably not know for months if they even need to file for bankruptcy. By that time, the tougher new law will be in force.
The law has stiffer requirements as well for what records must be produced by the debtor. But hurricane victims will have a hard time doing that. "Thousands and thousands of people no longer have checkbooks, insurance papers, car titles (or cars), birth certificates, Social Security cards or wallets," a group of Louisiana lawyers said in a letter two weeks ago to the state's Congressional delegation.
Eh, get over it!
But here's the probable real reasons they don't want to allow this exemption:
Professor LoPucki said he thought the majority of lawmakers were averse to enacting blanket bankruptcy relief for hurricane victims because that might raise questions about why victims of other uncontrollable events - like accidents, major illnesses or mass layoffs - should not get a break, too.
"If you admit that the bill is bad for Katrina victims," he said, "then there's really no reason it isn't bad for the others, too. They're all in some kind of problem. For most of them, it's largely their fault. But for a lot of them, it isn't their fault."
Makes sense to me.