Thursday, May 14, 2009

Obama Visits Rio Rancho for Credit Card Town Hall.

President Barack Obama, who flew into Kirtland Air Force Base late last night, after a commencement speech at Arizona State University, is working his way to Rio Rancho High School's basketball gym where he'll host an hour-long Town Hall meeting around 10:15 this morning. About 2000 people have already packed the gym

We learned that Albuquerque's Chris Lardner will introduce the President. She and her husband, Scott, sent an email message to Obama complaining that as soon as they put their daughter's tuition on their credit card the company increased their interest rates to nearly 30% from 9.24%.

Lardner just told the crowd she expects to be treated fairly, and raising her interest rate to 30% was "ludicrous and wrong." She's hoping Obama and congress makes unethical tactics illegal.

Obama is expected to address the increase in consumer complaints against credit card companies. He's already asked congress to send him a Consumer Credit Card Bill of Rights measure that he can sign by Memorial Day.

Last week, the U.S. House of representatives passed a version. This week the Senate is debating the proposal.

Congress has been swamped by consumer complaints about excess fees, suddent interest rape increases, and hard to read contracts .

Lawmakers, like New Mexico Congressman Harry Teague say the time has come to provide tighter guidelines, and consumer protection in the form of a Credit Card Holder's Bill of Rights. Some groups are demanding a freeze on interest rates hikes.

One in five Americas are paying more than 20% interest on an average balance of $7,000 dollars.

The Senate's version does not have a interest rate cap, but would prohibit credit cards from increasing rates unless a customer falls 60 days behind in their payments. It also requires credit card companies to provide a billing statement at least 21 days before a payment is due.
Congress also wants to make it more difficult for the banks to provide cards to those under age 21.

The crowd here is chanting, "Obama, Obama," but he's running already twenty minutes late.

On a trip to Espanola last year, Obama stopped at the Range Cafe in Bernalillo and was more than 90 minutes late.

We just learned that CBS News is reporting the motorcade made a wrong turn and actually had to make a U-turn.

We've spent a day trying to determine how Rio Rancho was selected as the site for the town hall. Some political insiders have speculated that it was just part of a two-day western swing, others say it was a political calculation to boost Governor Bill Richardson's lagging approval ratings and to build a bigger democratic base in Rio Rancho.

One person told us it's because New Mexico has been so proactive in tightening guidelines on predatory lending.

Multiple Democratic officials have been spotted in the crowd including Lt. Governor Diane Denish, Secretary of State Mary Herrera, State Auditor Hector Balderas, and State Treasurer James Lewis. County democrats are also sitting in a special VIP section.

It's 10:30 and Obama has just begun speaking. He say's "it's always nice to get out of Washington for awhile."

Obama is introducing Bill Richardson, whom he calls one of the finest governors in the nation.

New Mexico's congressional delegation stayed in Washington. They are not attending the meeting.

Photo Credit: MG Bralley

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