Where's our bailout?

Americans are drowning in debt. A new study from the Urban Institute shows that more than 35 percent of us have debt and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies. These debts include auto loans, credit card bills, hospital bills, mortgages, and even gym memberships and cellphone contracts, and they average over $5,000 dollars a person. Although wages have been pretty much stagnant for the last three decades, the cost of living hasn't stopped rising, and many Americans had to use credit just to get by.

To make matters worse, laws that used to cap interest rates on that credit were weakened during the 1980s, and that opened the door to a flood of high-interest lenders to prey on consumers. Not only did people need credit to supplement their stagnant wages, but they had to pay more to borrow than ever before. The situation was a recipe for disaster. The rising cost of education, health care, and housing made borrowing inevitable, and high-interest rates made defaulting on debt an almost-certainty for many Americans. Fast-forward a few decades, and it's not hard to see how we ended up with more than 100 million people being harassed by collection agencies over debts that they can't afford to pay back.

According to Urban Institute senior fellow Caroline Ratcliff, “Roughly, every third person you pass on the street is going to have debt in collections.” That is flat-out insane. Taxpayers have bailed out the banksters and propped up the too-big-to-jail banks, yet we're the ones who need some relief. It's time to wipe out all debt in our nation and reset the system to repair the damage from three decades of Reaganomics. Let's bail out Americans by calling for a national debt jubilee.

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