Rubber Checks And Balances

Members of the House of Representatives have invented the ultimate freebie: they can, in effect, print money. Ordinary citizens who bounce cheeks are charged from $10 to $25 by their banks. But the House has a unique "deposit fund" which covers overdrafts and allows a month to repay the interest-free, tax-free loans. Such transactions might be illegal under U.S. banking law, but the House, of course, makes its own rules. During the first half of 1990, members wrote 4,325 rubber checks, the General Accounting Office found. That's the highest rate of kited cheeks ever, despite new rules written in 1989.