Friday, January 03, 2014

Payday lenders going on offense

Privatization hits full tilt.

If you want to set up an account to use the new toll road in El Paso, Texas, you may have to first stop by a payday lender.

The El Paso Times reports that the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority will be working with the payday lender ACE Cash Express to help collect tolls for the César Chávez Border Highway toll road, which is expected to open Jan. 8.

While people who want to set up an account to use the road or pay off their toll charges can do so by phone, mail or online, the only places to do so in person in El Paso are at ACE stores. Those individuals who make the transaction at the payday lender "will be charged a $3 fee to set up the account and a $2 convenience service fee to replenish a non-credit card," the paper notes.

Keep in mind that this news follows the report that Rick Perry's appointee to the state Office of Consumer Credit -- and the executive of a payday lending company himself -- has lashed out at critics of his usurious racket.

The official who oversees Texas' consumer watchdog says payday-loan customers -- not the lenders -- are responsible when the loans trap them in a cycle of debt.

William J. White says it's out of line to even question an industry that has had its practices called exploitative by many critics, including the Catholic Church.

White was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to chair the state agency that oversees the Office of the Consumer Credit Commissioner, which is responsible for protecting consumers from predatory lending practices.

White also is vice president of Cash America, a major payday lender that the new U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last month socked with its first sanctions for abusive practices.

The only thing left to know is how much Cash America and Mr. White and others have contributed to Rick Perry.  Do you smell the fascism yet?

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia ban payday lending, which the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation defines as "imposing unfair and abusive loan terms on borrowers." Another nine states restrict payday lending.

Payday loans often prey on society's most economically vulnerable. As the Center for American Progress notes, in Texas, more than 75 percent of payday lenders are in neighborhoods where the median household income is less than $50,000.


Under Gov. Rick Perry (R), Texas has been a welcoming state for payday lenders.

"Texas is still essentially the wild, wild west of payday lending, where you can see payday lenders charging 400 and 500 percent annual interest rates," Diane Standaert, senior legislative counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending, said.

The toll partnership with ACE was set up in 2010, during Perry's tenure.

With the vacuum of legislative inaction against these shylocks, Texas mayors have responded.

In December 2013, the City of Houston passed its own ordinance regulating pay day lending that requires lenders to register with the city, places limits on the amount of loans that can be dispersed, as well as the number of times loans can be renewed. Houston’s ordinance is similar to those adopted previously by the cities of Austin, Dallas, El Paso, and San Antonio.

Those cities all have Democratic mayors.  We're forced to remind ourselves that we get the government we deserve when Republicans get elected.  And that happens because Texas is the lowest among all 50 states in voter turnout.  Indeed, most of the victims of these usurious crimes can be found at the intersection of Poor and Dumb.  (Both of those are treatable conditions, but not as long as we let the GOP play doctor.)

But we also need to note that minor-league Democrats and their chickenshit political consultants have had their snouts in the payday lending trough as well.  John had his satirical take yesterday, while Sen. Sylvia Garcia has joined Wendy Davis in calling for White to step down.

“William White can’t protect Texas consumers while he represents a predatory lending company on the side,” she said.

You can count on Greg Abbott dodging questions about this for as long as he possibly can. The one thing the Attorney General is consistent about is avoiding taking a stand on anything until he runs it past his contributors. How much have they paid, again, is the only question that needs an answer.

We already know what they bought, after all.

Update: No sooner did I hit 'publish' than I see Charles' post, which links to Wayne Slater at Trailblazers -- with Abbott's (campaign spokesperson's) full-throated defense of his buddy, White.

In a statement Thursday, an Abbott campaign spokesman defended White and accused Davis of “blatant election-year hypocrisy” for criticizing him. Although Davis filed bills during the 2011 legislative session to curb abusive practices in the payday loan industry and was critical of White, the Abbott campaign spokesman notes she didn’t vote against confirming his nomination. Further, the spokesman said Davis had an opportunity to amend bills to limit industry representatives on the commission, but didn’t. A Davis campaign spokesman said White was one of more than 40 nominees to numerous state agencies and commissions voted on as a group. Cash America’s political committee — which White contributes to — has given Abbott at least $18,000 in political donations, according to state finance records. The industry’s major political committee, the Texas Consumer Lenders PAC, gave Abbott $10,000 before last year’s legislative session.

Not a single surprise there, not even Abbott's distortion of Davis' vote.

1 comment:

Gadfly said...

Not to mention that Cesar Chavez would be turning in his grave, if he could, over having a toll road rather than a free highway named for him.