Professor Todd Zywicki, apologist-in-chief for the bankruptcy amendments, famously testified before Congress last February that not a single word needed to be changed in the bankruptcy bill — not so much as a misplaced comma, an incorrect cross-reference, an ambiguous phrase or simply a bad idea. It was, he told Senator Feingold, all perfect. Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee had introduced an amendment to provide some protection for victims of natural disasters. She was concerned about whether people caught in, say, a hurricane could waive paperwork requirements if their documents were buried in ten feet of mud or modify income calculations so that disaster relief payments wouldn’t be counted, but her proposal was voted down on party lines. According to Professor Zywicki, the bill — without the amendment — was perfect.
Now the Big Hurricane has hit, and a number of people are taking another look at whether bankruptcy relief for families and small businesses will be adequate. The New York Times suggested Monday morning that Katrina victims be given a reprieve on meeting the requirements of the law — and Professor Zywicki went on the attack. His complaint? The NYT editorial, according to Professor Zywicki, has the temerity to speak of the bankruptcy bill as “special interest politics.” Gee, the NYT is writing about a bill written by credit industry lobbyist Jeff Tassey and George Wallace, and, as the lobbyists cheerfully put it, “shopped” to a friendly congressman, and then backed up with tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions. Special interest politics, indeed!
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