We covered U.S. Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del.,in Congress a few times, back when he ran a House Banking subcommittee during the GOP's brief ascendancy 15 years ago. Castle stood out very well in that crowd (of which the late US Rep Sonny Bono was also a member, among other clowns) because he showed every sign of thoroughly understanding financial legislation. Since he'd been a corporate lawyer and a bank-state Governor and all. Not like a certain New York Rep who at one hearing asked Alan Greenspan why he couldn't just raise interest rates in cities where the economy was too fast, and cut them where things were slow.

Castle is close to the banks, which are still major employers in Delaware. We were interested to see that (unlike his bitter-end colleagues from that other consumer banking center, South Dakota) he joined the fat majority in approving the "Credit Card Bill of Rights" law on its final vote last month, despite his earlier objections. We sent him questions from our Septa commuter train. He answered from his Amtrak. Excerpts:

(On what's changed in US credit card law)"The biggest change is the time period afforded to consumers before a lender can increase a credit card interest rate.  While this makes sense and gives consumers time to change cards if they feel a higher interest rate is unfair, the sponsor of the card -- a bank or credit union -- needs the ability to reprice you if you are no longer as good a credit risk as you once were."

(On whether that's a good thing)
"While some consumers will benefit from this change, I worry that many other consumers might pay higher rates to start with, and possibly other consumers may go without a card because they don't qualify or cannot afford the terms...."
 
(On why he backed the final bill) 
  
"I thought that realistic changes were made in the process to protect Delaware consumers, so I voted for the bill. We worked very hard to help consumers, balance the interests of a very important industry in our state, and protect those individuals and businesses reliant on credit cards." 
 
(On why the bill passed in 2009, amid the banking crisis, under the Democrats)  
"This whole reform process started a couple of years ago by the Federal Reserve. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, appointed under a Republican administration, made it a priority to reform the credit card business. The Fed received over 60,000 comments about changes to "fine print" disclosures and fees showing that this issue was pertinent to many Americans.  With that, it was a very deliberative process that took a few years to complete, and Congress took the Fed's recommendations into consideration as they tried to find the proper balance between consumer needs and business interests."

(For different views on credit card reform, and why now, see the PhillyDeals column in the print Sunday Inquirer)