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Home arrow Opinion arrow Editorials arrow Five stars for Wyden

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Five stars for Wyden

We're suspicious whenever a politician proposes a law that purportedly would help people who have stretched their credit limit until it starts to creak like pond ice in March.

The government shouldn't rescue people who, under no duress, sign on for some deal that's barely better than a Ponzi scheme, and then go out and buy a couple of big-screen plasma TVs.

But the idea that Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden floated last week — to require the Federal Reserve to assign risk ratings to credit cards — is no bailout for the financially naive.

The legislation, which Wyden said he and fellow Democratic Senator Barack Obama will introduce this week, would simply give consumers more information on which to make decisions.

That's hardly a novel concept for the federal government, which includes, to name just two agencies with comparable missions, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

We like Wyden and Obama's plan because it's based on a concept that most people are familiar with: star ratings.

For instance, high-risk credit cards — ones with interest rates that can increase at any time, for any reason — would be rated one star.

It's true, of course, that even the most one-sided credit card offer includes all the details. Trouble is, the truly important stuff — interest rates, for example — tends to be printed in the inaptly named "fine print," which isn't fine at all if you happen to miss it.

The Wyden-Obama legislation would transform the fine print into the equivalent of a banner headline.

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