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On House floor, congressman goes all Edward Scissorhands on credit cards

Daniel Ray

During the lead-up to the debt ceiling vote, I somehow missed this important event: A Detroit congressman used the controversy to inveigh against individual debt on the floor of the House of Representatives, and then demonstrated how to deal with it — by whipping out a pair of scissors and cutting credit cards in two.

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Gesturing forcefully, Howard Beale-like in his zeal, Rep. Hansen Clarke took his fellow Americans to task for their invidual debts. “Just as Congress has an obligation to act, I got to talk to you, the American people,” he said. “You got to act, too. You got to take responsibility.

“You want this government to get out of debt? Then you get out of debt personally. Stop the spending. Stop the borrowing. Stop overconsumption, buying things you don’t need with money you don’t have. That’s robbing you and your family of a future. It’s robbing this country out of jobs.

“So I’m going to ask every American right now, get out your credit cards. Cut them up. Free yourself. Free yourselves.”

And with that, he pulled a pair of blue-handled shears from his coat pocket and went all Edward Scissorhands on three credit cards in quick succession. It’s near the end of the five-minute C-SPAN clip below — at around the 1:11:03 mark:

By the way, no actual credit cards were harmed during Rep. Clarke’s performance, which took place July 19. He used canceled cards that belonged to others, his spokeswoman told the Huffington Post.

And they certainly weren’t his own. “After he won the August primary, he decided to be debt-free and refuses to use credit,” spokeswoman Kim Bowman says. “It is important for him to be in integrity in Congress. No credit. No debt.”

Oh, and one final thing: Congressman, you did it wrong. There’s a better way to cut up your credit cards.

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