LegNet July 2008
LegNet July 30, 2008
Take Charge of Your Credit Cards; Getting Gas Consumption Under Control; Global Poverty and Child Hunger
Welcome to the new GFWC Legislative Network! Our new LegNets will be distributed monthly and will contain three to four informative and timely articles, all designed to brief you on hot topics in our nation’s capital and provide suggested actions you can take to influence the political process.
This month’s LegNet focuses on a number of domestic and international economic issues. GFWC members are encouraged to arm themselves with all the necessary knowledge and feel empowered to take action on these important issues. As always, we appreciate hearing from you on the issues that are important to you, your club, and your community. Please e-mail us at Legislation@GFWC.org with your suggestions and comments.
Take Charge of Your Credit Cards!
Did you know that after Congress passes a bill and it is signed by the President there is still another step where you can get involved? Very large sections of U.S. law are overseen and interpreted by various agencies of the Executive Branch and actions by these “regulators” can have an enormous impact on our daily lives. One such example is the recent credit card regulations put forth by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Bank. The proposed regulations were issued in May and are up for public comment until August 4. After the public comment period is over, the staff of the FRB will review and compile all comments and release its final regulations later this year.
The proposed regulations attempt to change the way some credit card issuers collect interest and fees from credit card customers. One change being proposed is to prevent credit card issuers from retroactively raising interest rates on previous balances. Many banks are raising interest rates on credit cards to make up for deep losses in their mortgage lending portfolios and these increases are often applied to pre-existing credit card balances in addition to new purchases. The FRB’s basic argument is that a cardholder entered into a contract with the issuer under one set of circumstances and asserts that it is unfair to change the terms of that contract and the cardholder must be allowed to pay off that balance over a reasonable period of time.
A number of other credit card practices that affect your pocketbook are addressed in the proposed regulations. If you are interested in learning more about credit cards and offering your own comments—more than 13,000 Americans have already done so--visit the FRB online.
Getting Gas Consumption Under Control
Gas prices are spiraling upwards and there seems to be no limit to how high they will go. Many economists speculate that prices could reach as high as $5 a gallon before their eventual ceiling. Much has been written about the various causes of the increase in fuel prices: increased demand from rapidly developing countries like China and India, the declining value of the dollar, conflicts in the Middle East, supply disruptions for geo-political reasons or rampant speculation in the energy markets.
Unfortunately most of these are beyond the control of the average American, but there are several things you can do to help protect your own pocketbook against ever increasing prices and help reduce your carbon footprint.
- Car pool: An old idea, but it has never been a smarter way to get to work! Find out if your city or town has an open car pool. Talk with you neighbors and co-workers to find out if they are interested in sharing a ride.
- Combine trips: Set your GPS to maximize efficiency or use www.googlemaps.com or www.mapquest.com to track them yourself.
- Fill Up Your Tank at Night: In the heat of the day, gas expands and you get less for your money.
- Contact Your State and National Elected Officials: Ask them to support stronger fuel efficiency regulations for automobiles and increased research for alternative energy sources.
You can learn more tips on gas savings.
Global Poverty and Child Hunger
Much has been said in the media about the increasing cost of food on American grocery store shelves. According to the Consumer Price Index food prices increased 5.1 percent from April 2007 to April 2008. The cost of milk is up 13.7 percent and eggs are up a whopping 30.5 percent in that period of time. Clearly, we are all being stretched in our household food budgets and most of us are making cutbacks or changing our weekly menus.
However, the situation in many countries is much, much worse that what the United States is experiencing. Americans spend approximately 10-15 percent of their household budgets on food. Compare this to many developing countries where the average citizen will use 75 percent or more of their income on food. When food prices increase so drastically in these places, a condition known as “acute malnutrition” will kill as many as 10 million people annually. Most of these are children. According to World Vision, a humanitarian organization on the front lines of world poverty, a child will die every seven seconds due to malnutrition.
As Congress begins to look towards the end of the session, it is important not to forget the work that has gone into the Global Poverty Act of 2007. While the Global Poverty Act is not likely to see further action in the U.S. Senate this year, it is imperative that the bill directing the President to develop and implement a strategy to end extreme global poverty have a proper U.S. House and Senate floor vote in 2009. Please take a moment to contact U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Chair Joseph R. Biden and Ranking Member Richard G. Lugar to request that the bill be considered favorably in the future. It is critical that these Senators hear from the American public to ensure that global poverty and child malnutrition are at the top of next year’s priority list.