President Bush signs the biggest rewrite of U-S bankruptcy law in a quarter-century, saying it'll restore fairness to a system that's been widely abused.
The measure makes it harder for debt-ridden Americans to wipe out all of their obligations. Instead, those who can afford to will have to repay some of what they owe under a plan approved by a judge.
At a White House ceremony Wednesday, President Bush said bankruptcy laws should be a "last resort" because if debts aren't paid back, society ends up footing the bill.
Critics contend the overhaul is a windfall for credit card and banking companies, and will make it harder for the poor and elderly to get a fresh start.
However, the President says making bankruptcy more rare will make credit more widely available and cheaper.
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