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What is all this financial legislation anyway?

President Obama has signed legislation aimed at stemming the current economic crisis. But what exactly does it all mean to consumers? Here is a brief summary of some of the finance-related legislation from the federal government.

  • Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act (CARD) – Bill is meant to end deceptive credit card practices. CARD bans unfair rate increases, along with unfair fee traps. The act requires credit card companies to give card holders at least 21 days from the time of mailing to pay a bill, helping end hidden late penalties. Credit card contracts also will be written in plain language and in an easily accessible place. Further, companies will now explain to cardholders the ramifications of their charges, giving information about how long it will take to pay off debt and the interest accrued if the person only pays the minimum amount.

  • American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – This is what’s commonly called the big bailout, totaling $787 billion dollars. Money from the ARRA is intended to impact every facet of the economy. For example, $150 billion is earmarked for new infrastructure projects that will add jobs to local economies while also shoring up the country’s highways, bridges and mass transit systems. The Act also funds shortfalls in Pell Grants, allowing more students access to higher education. Moreover, the Act aims to create 3.5 million jobs, mostly in the private sector, to jumpstart the flagging economy.

  • Helping Families Save Their Homes Act – The legislation expands the Administration’s Making Home Affordable program, which attempts to reduce foreclosures throughout the country. The Families Act strengthens the existing Hope for Homeowners program, aimed at helping those in underwater mortgages with refinancing possibilities. The Act also extends protections to renters of properties that go into foreclosure by mandating that lease terms are honored until the end. Money also is allocated for addressing homeslessness in America.

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