One of the most talked about features of the credit card bill is its lack of support for small businesses. Currently, small businesses are suffering gravely from the effects of the economic crisis. They are in even worse straits right now because the exploitative practices of credit card companies that were the bane of private credit cardholders are also theirs.
The worst part is that, while private credit cardholders have something to look forward to a few months from now, when the credit card bill becomes active, small businesses don't. They will still have to face the credit card industry practices that private credit cardholders will be saved from a few months from now.
The legislation for including small businesses in the credit card bill was present during the bill's early stages. The sponsor of the bill was Democratic senator of Louisiana, Senator Mary Landrieu who was also the Senate Small Business committee chairman. The amendment that the senator introduced contained two provisions: extending the definition of consumers included for credit protection to individuals who used their personal credit cards for their business, with a limitation of having at most 50 employees and including small business credit cards for consumer protection.
Many expected Senator Landrieu's amendment to pass easily through senate. After all, it was riding on a very popular legislation which passed through the Senate with a vote of 90-5. Small businesses are also highly regarded among the people of Capitol Hill. It was also being reported at the time that small businesses with company credit cards were seeing large interest rate hikes and a drying up of credit limits. However, when the bill passed last month, Senator Landrieu's amendment was nowhere to be seen in the final credit card bill.
The National Small Business Association, or NSBA, stood as the amendment's chief advocate. According to them, they originally approached Senator Dodd's Banking Committee for support for the amendment. It was not well received. Senate aides from both the democrats and the republicans said that the Banking Committee were chilly towards the idea because it had not really studied completely the implications of extending the protection of the credit card bill to small businesses.
While protection for small businesses is lacking in the credit card bill, there is a provision which will have the Federal Reserve study the issue. The result may strengthen the case for small businesses. There are also several movements in the House and the Senate which may introduce a new bill for small business credit protection. However, thousands of bills are introduced daily and only a rare few gain ground. The chances of a bill protecting small businesses becoming law is realistically quite low and, if it ever comes, it is probably going to take some time.