Another day in congress; another reprehensible giveaway to corporate special interests that prey upon vulnerable people. The latest entry in this dreadful parade: A vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to forbid the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from…you guessed it…protecting consumers from financial abuse — in this case the 400% interest sharks in the “payday” loan business.
You really can’t make this stuff up. As low-income Americans struggle to make ends meet in our ever-more-economically-stratified society, our elected representatives have voted to unleash a loathsome and bottom-feeding “industry” that acts as little more than a prettified loan sharking operation. As consumer advocates at Americans for Financial Reform observed:
“Faced with the opportunity to protect Americans from payday lenders and their 400% interest rate loans, a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives instead chose to side with America’s legalized loan sharks and 221 members of Congress are on the record giving a free pass to payday lenders.
It was a simple up or down vote: vote yes and you support consumers and the rule of law, or vote no and allow payday lenders to break the law.
This comes just weeks before the Consumer Bureau is expected to release a new rule with protections for payday loan borrowers. Members of congress who serve their payday lending backers are expected to try to overturn this rule and keep families trapped in debt.”
Not surprisingly, the vote was almost exclusively partisan, with all but a couple of Democrats voting against the industry and all Republicans, save four, voting for it. To his credit, the only Republican in the North Carolina delegation to stand up for average people was Rep. Walter Jones. Jones is, of course, a maverick and unpredictable on lots of issues, but in this case, he courageously did the right thing alongside Democratic members Alma Adams, G.K. Butterfield and David Price. Unfortunately, the rest of the delegation — Ted Budd, Virginia Foxx, George Holding, Richard Hudson, Patrick McHenry, Robert Pittenger, David Rouzer and Mark Walker — all, predictably, did the loan shark lobby’s bidding.
The issue is not over. There will be more votes in both house on this issue. Let’s hope Jones’ stand helps shame his fellow conservative lawmakers into rethinking their positions.