Biden backed brutal bankruptcy bill in 2005

In 1999, then-senator Joe Biden (D-Del.) declared, "I'm not the senator from MBNA."  Apparently, Biden felt it was necessary to clarify that he did not exclusively represent credit card giant MBNA because his constituents were thoroughly confused, based on his track record of being a shill for credit card companies located in the First State.

Then, six years later, Biden inserted his foot directly into his mouth (again) when he championed the notorious (and ill named) Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA).  A more appropriate name could have been the Act to Protect Credit Card Companies and Shaft Students and Workers.

In short, BAPCPA was a terrible bill that favored credit card companies, big banks, and millionaires over working-class borrowers.  It also is solely responsible for the fact that student loan debt is totally impossible to dismiss — even after one has declared bankruptcy.

Wait a minute — I thought Joe Biden was the consummate defender and advocate of the working class and oppressed.  Far from it.  In reality, Biden's political career of more than four decades was predicated upon protecting the interests of credit card companies. 

He and his son, Hunter, were compensated handsomely for doing so.  According to a 2019 GQ article titled "How Biden Helped Strip Bankruptcy Protection from Millions Just before a Recession," "one of the biggest credit card companies in Delaware, MBNA, hired Joe Biden's son Hunter in 1996.  Even after Hunter became a federal lobbyist in 2001, he stayed on at MBNA as a consultant at a fee of $100,000 per year, meaning he was pulling in a six-figure salary at the same time his father was pushing for the industry's top priorities."  Can you say "quid pro quo," Joe?

As if the backroom deals and "you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours" shenanigans that Biden blatantly engaged in before, during, and after BAPCPA was passed were not bad enough, the bill wrought untold damage among the very people Biden constantly claims to protect.

According to Adam J. Levitin, professor of law at Georgetown University, BAPCPA "was perhaps the most anti–middle class piece of legislation in the past century."  And, as Levitin writes, "Biden used his clout to push for the law's passage and to defeat amendments to shield servicemembers, women, and children from its harsh treatment.  When votes were taken, 'Middle-Class Joe' was no friend to the middle class."  It sure seems that Biden abandoned his Lunchbox Joe persona when it came to voting in favor of BAPCPA, not to mention that he strongly supported amendments that made the bill even more hostile to the middle class!

And adding insult to injury, Biden also voted against several amendments that were specifically meant to help several "underprivileged" groups.  As Levitin writes, "He voted against three amendments to ease bankruptcy requirements for consumers whose financial troubles stem from medical expenses.  He voted against an amendment that would have helped seniors keep their homes.  He voted against exempting servicemembers and widows of servicemembers killed in action from the law's eligibility restrictions.  He voted against an amendment to exempt women whose financial troubles stemmed from deadbeat husbands' failure to pay child support or alimony.  And Biden even voted against an amendment that would have ensured that children of debtors could still be given birthday and Christmas presents.  Biden also voted against allowing debtors to pay their union dues during bankruptcy, potentially imperiling their employment and ability to achieve financial rehabilitation."  Could Biden's voting record on this bill get any worse?  Actually, yes.

Not only did Biden strongly oppose BAPCPA amendments aimed to help "disadvantaged" groups, he voted for two giant loopholes that effectively allowed millionaires to shield their assets from collectors after they filed for bankruptcy.  What a joke, Joe.

As a senator, Biden vigorously voted for several similar bills.  In short, based on his voting record, Joe Biden is not (and never was) a champion of disadvantaged Americans, unless you consider multi-billion-dollar credit card corporations and millionaires "disadvantaged."

Chris Talgo ( is an editor at The Heartland Institute.