... introduces a very useful piece of legislation:
Much of America – hard-working, bill-paying America – has a damaged credit rating.
There are a lot of different reasons, but a lot of people just caught a bad break. They got sick. Their husband left or their wife died. They lost their job.
Problems only got worse after the financial crisis. Shrinking home prices made it impossible to sell or refinance a home. People lost their small businesses. Smaller savings left people without much cushion to ride out the tough times. People missed a payment or went into debt.
Most people recognize that bad credit means they will have trouble borrowing money or they will pay more to borrow. But many don't realize that a damaged credit rating can also block access to a job.
It was once thought that credit history would provide insight into someone's character, and many companies routinely require credit reports from job applicants. But research has shown that an individual's credit rating has little or no correlation with his ability to succeed at work. A bad credit rating is far more often the result of unexpected personal crisis or economic downturn than a reflection of someone's abilities.
Today, along with Senators Blumenthal, Brown, Leahy, Markey, Shaheen, and Whitehouse, I am introducing a bill to stop employers from requiring prospective employees to disclose their credit history or disqualifying applicants based on a poor credit rating.
After a terrible blow like a family death, a divorce, or a life-changing disease, many people scramble to get back to work, pick up a second job, or change jobs so they can get back on their feet financially. But they are knocked back by their damaged credit rating.
Highly qualified applicants with bad credit can be shut out of the job market. That's wrong.
Let's be honest: This is one more way the game is rigged against the middle class. A rich person who loses a job or gets divorced or faces a family illness is unlikely to suffer from a drop in his or her credit rating. But for millions of hard-working families, a hard personal blow translates into a hard financial blow that will show up for years in a credit report.
People shouldn't be denied the chance to compete for jobs because of credit reports that bear no relationship to job performance and that, according to recent reports, are often riddled with inaccuracies. Show your support for my new bill, the Equal Employment for All Act.
It's been five years since the financial crisis, and it's time for struggling families to stop paying the price for the recklessness on Wall Street and failed oversight in Washington that tanked our economy.
The Equal Employment for All Act addresses just one small issue, but for many families, it'll make a world of difference.
Now the fact is that employers may very well find ways to use this information anyway. If you're a person who's inclined to think that bad credit automatically disqualifies a job candidate you're also not likely to ignore the data if it's obtainable. But it is at the very least a consciousness raising exercise that could affect corporations with big human resources departments that go by the book. This is good stuff.
I've been a big Warren fan since long before she decided to enter electoral politics. She's been making the case for the middle class for a very long time and we've been chronicling it here on this blog. During her run for the Senate against Scott Brown, Blue America endorsed her enthusiastically and I had the great honor to host an online chat and fundraiser for her. It remains a highlight of my Netroots activist work:
That viral Youtube may be the most famous American cri de coeur of the new century --- a shot heard round the political world announcing that Elizabeth Warren was not just running for the Senate in Massachusetts, but that she was going to do it by redefining the political framework that's governed this nation for the past 30 years. Warren's message put fear in the hearts of the big money boyz and the political establishment and they reacted. Strongly. This is not a person they want in the Senate and they are going to do whatever they can to ensure she isn't elected.
As someone who has been fighting for the middle class for many years as a researcher and advocate, Warren is a rare politician who has knowledge of the way Washington works while not being of Washington. As her recent battles setting up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau showed, the wall of resistance to her ideas is formidable and a lesser person would have done her work and gone back to her secure and happy life as a professor and lecturer. But those battles only made her more determined.
She's going to be the next Senator from Massachusetts if we have anything to do with it --- and if her track record is any indication that ossified institution isn't going to know what hit it...
Go read the chat transcript to see that she was dead serious:
digby: In your book "The Two Income Trap" you discussed how Hillary Clinton had been instrumental in the Clinton administration's veto of the bankruptcy bill but later voted for it when she became a Senator. Obviously, you are even more aware today of what a cautionary tale that is.
Elizabeth Warren: Absolutely. My life's work has been advocating for middle class families - and nothing is going to change that. I'm not running for Senate because I want to play the insider political game. I'm running because the middle class is getting hammered, and we just can't afford more of the usual politics...
When I went toe-to-toe with what is probably the biggest lobbying force the world has ever seen, we didn't cave in to the lobbyists. We organized people all around this country, and we got a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that will make a real difference for families. So, yes, I'm ready for whatever they throw at me.
And she clearly was!
You can co-sponsor her Equal Employment for All Act at the link provided above.