This proposed policy seems to me a sensible notion with applicability in Australia.
US lending institutions will now be required to show customers they can afford the loans they offer them. Lenders would also be required to reveal all hidden charges in loans and commissions. If they did provide inaccurate information they could then be sued by customers for limited compensation. The measure applies to new mortgages only where the lending rate is 3% points or more higher than the Treasury rate. In my experience, the Australian banks, in particular, are thoroughly irresponsible in terms of how they offer credit card and home mortgage debt. They generally offer too much debt!
In Australia lending institution employees are offered financial rewards to sell people expensive debt that in some cases they cannot afford. Recently I was offered credit card debt with a leading bank for in excess of $40,000 at an interest rate of 18%. I obviously did not accept - given my mortgage and other obligations it would have been unwise to do so and a personal loan would be a better option anyway - but those less knowledgeable might. A friend buying his first home worked out that he could just afford to borrow $200,000 given his income and that of his wife. The bank offered double that. There are countless stories of this type in Australia.
Objecting to dumb lending practices that leave the less-than-well-informed in difficult situations is not nanny-statism. It is recognition that stupid lending policies by inept institutions impose broader social costs beyond individual bankruptcy and default. I would prefer a return to the older regulated system where credit was rationed on the basis of demonstrated ability to repay and where, without default risks, interest rates would be somewhat lower. But I know things have gone too far to return to such a regulated system. These more modest moves proposed by Bernanke's are a reasonable 'second-best' policy alternative that Australia should think about mimicking - hopefully before we get into our own sub-prime mortgage mess.