On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked Democratic Senator Chris Dodd about efforts by Congress to pass legislation that would punish credit card companies for charging higher fees and interest rates: "Senator, yesterday President Obama says that he wants legislation to stop credit card abuses. This is something that you have been pushing for, for years. And I don't have to tell you that there's been strong credit card lobby against this. Now that the President's on board, can you assure consumers that this will finally get done and when?...what's the likelihood?"
Dodd responded by thanking Rodriguez and her CBS colleagues for their slanted coverage on the issue: "I think pretty good. And you've laid the groundwork for it because people are irate over these issues...I think we have a wonderful opportunity, now, to make a difference here and get a handle on these issues that have been gouging consumers for far too long."
On Thursday, Rodriguez reported on how credit card company’s "crippling interest rate hikes strangle some consumers," adding, "We'll tell you when you can expect some relief." She later introduced a report on the topic: "Today President Obama will meet with the heads of the nation's top credit card companies about implementing reform." In that report, correspondent Bill Plante declared: "Banks and credit card companies are saying that the credit crunch has meant record defaults for them and that's why they're raising fees and interest rates. But a lot of consumers are feeling gouged."
Plante later concluded: "In today's meeting, the President will urge the credit card and bank executives to change their practices. But it will also tell them that it's going to happen with or without their cooperation."
Here is the full transcript of Rodriguez’s Friday interview with Dodd:
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Joining us right now, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Senator Chris Dodd. He is on Capitol Hill this morning. Good morning, Senator Dodd.
CHRIS DODD: Good morning, Maggie.
RODRIGUEZ: Priya just mentioned it, and it is the headline in all the papers this morning, Chrysler possibly filing for bankruptcy as early as next week. And GM possibly following soon thereafter. So Senator, we're looking at two of the big three automakers possibly filing for bankruptcy. Is this the new reality for the once-mighty auto industry? And if so, Senator, what message does that send to consumers?
DODD: Well obviously, this is not the option we'd like to be hearing about. My hope is it's not a liquidation, but rather, what they call a 'debtor in possession,' sort of Chapter 11 filing, which would allow for the reorganization of these companies. I can't imagine-
RODRIGUEZ: Which is more likely?
DODD: I think, probably, the latter one. I can't imagine they'd talk about liquidation, here. It talks about reorganization, and while no one likes that option at all, I can't imagine people would, it may be the best option here to retain a strong auto industry in the 21st century for our nation. So, I wish we had different results but the realities are what they are. And so this may be the best option, even though we would have preferred a different one, had things change earlier. So I'd -- I'd like to see how this is going to work. My hope is, I said to you, it's not a liquidation, I think that would be the wrong step. But rather one that allows for reorganization.
RODRIGUEZ: Senator, yesterday President Obama says that he wants legislation to stop credit card abuses. This is something that you have been pushing for, for years. And I don't have to tell you that there's been strong credit card lobby against this. Now that the President's on board, can you assure consumers that this will finally get done and when?
DODD: Well, I'd love to give that assurance, but this is the United States Congress with 535 people. And anyone who predicts with absolute certainty what this institution will do hasn't been here very long.
RODRIGUEZ: Right, but what's the likelihood?
DODD: I think pretty good. And you've laid the groundwork for it because people are irate over these issues. We've had 70 million accounts, had interest rates go up in the last year alone, Maggie. That's one out of four families. Among students alone, the average credit card debt of a student in college today is in excess of $3,000. That's up over $1,000 in the last two years. It's the largest debt that Sallie Mae, the organization that tracks these accounts, has ever seen among student debt. In fact, a graduate today has in excess of $4,000 worth of debt. Retail stores interchange fees, the credit card insurers are making billions of dollars off fees they charge small retail stores in the country. So, from a consumer standpoint, with fees and interest rates, students as well as small businesses, I think we have a wonderful opportunity, now, to make a difference here and get a handle on these issues that have been gouging consumers for far too long.
RODRIGUEZ: Senator Chris Dodd, we have to leave it there. We thank you for your time this morning.
DODD: Thank you, Maggie.