She wasn’t counting on us to notice
When Debbie Wasserman Schultz agreed to sponsor legislation in Congress to deregulate loan sharks she wasn’t counting on a groundswell of opposition from progressive Democrats.
But here’s what The Huffington Post reported a few days ago:
“Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) has been working to gut new rules intended to rein in predatory payday lending. Her fellow Democrats don’t seem pleased… On Wednesday, dozens of activists… held a protest outside the DNC’s headquarters in Washington, calling on Wasserman Schultz to resign her position as chair over the payday loan issue.”
It was also reported that Wasserman Schultz has taken $68,000 in campaign contributions from payday lenders that target communities of color and the poorest among us. Our campaign has never taken a penny from payday lenders or any other corporate interests, and we never will. We’ve heard heartbreaking stories of men and women caught in a downward cycle where one small payday loan — used as a last resort to pay a heating bill or to put food on the table — turns into a never ending debt trap.
These payday lenders charge late fees and rates as high as 300–400% annually and many specifically prey on the most disadvantaged of our citizens. Their employees are expertly trained in how to trick working Americans into covering the cost of a prior payday loan with another payday loan, without explaining to them the obscene increases in fees and percentages.
Throughout my career as a law professor, scholar, and political activist, I have pushed for regulation of payday loan companies. I worked with Senator Bernie Sanders and his staff on provisions to reform Wall Street, including legislation that created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Now, Debbie Wasserman Schultz is attempting to undo that hard-earned work and ensure there are no minimum standards for her loan shark donors — the kind of standards that would protect the most vulnerable among us from getting ripped off and trapped in an abusive spiral of debt.
Wasserman Schultz and her friends in the payday lending industry cannot be allowed to simply get away with this — we have a responsibility to expose their shameful business practices.
If we stand together, we can create an economy that protects us from predatory fraudsters and Wall Street bankers who are swindling American workers.