Shark Week 2016 – We’re going to need a bigger boat!

It’s Shark Week! While ocean going sharks will be in the spotlight, it’s the predatory payday loan sharks that are the real danger in our neighborhoods.

This year, we’ve got a chance to build a lifeboat to keep our families out of harm’s way with new proposed rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The only problem is that the boat is full of holes, and a leaky boat won’t keep the loan sharks at bay.

This Shark Week, demand the CFPB plug the leaks in their proposed rule.

The business model of payday and car title loan sharks is to keep people trapped in endless cycles of debt. These sharks rely on direct access to borrowers’ checking accounts and holding the title to your car to get paid first. That’s the definition of predatory. The CFPB rules must truly dismantle the debt trap by letting payday lenders make a loan only when they have made sure the borrower can afford to pay it back.

Right now the CFPB proposed rules don’t guarantee that. They need to hear from you. Tell the the CFPB to plug the holes in their proposed rule so our communities are safe from predatory payday loan sharks who put profits over people.

This #Sharkweek, let’s make sure we come out ahead of the loan sharks.

03 Car Title Loan Sharks

Stop Predatory Lending

On June 2, in Kansas City, MO the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will finally release their proposed rules for the payday loan industry. We’ve been fighting for this day for years and are thrilled it’s arrived. But this isn’t the end of the fight. It’s another beginning.

Community and faith leaders from across the country will be moving to action on June 2, in Kansas City and at home, to make our voices heard. We need a strong rule that shuts down the payday debt trap once and for all and we’re going to fight to make sure we get it. Join us by making a comment to the CFPB in support of a strong rule!

The CFPB will be opening a public comment period when they release the rules and we’ll need everyone’s voice to be heard. Check back on June 2nd for ways that you can submit your own comment to the CFPB and connect with groups working on the ground to be sure that we have a rule that doesn’t let the loan sharks continue to prey on our communities.

Every day, payday and car title lenders drain $23,951,459 out of the pockets of hard-working Americans with predatory lending practices. That’s over $8.7 billion every year and that doesn’t include predatory installment lending or capture every loan. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) started the process of rulemaking in March of 2015 – we can’t wait anymore. We need a strong rule that puts a stop to the debt trap now.

The Problem

From payday storefronts to car title lenders to online & installment lenders, predatory lenders take billions in fees every year by trapping customers in a desperate cycle of debt.

  • Payday loans average 300% APR or higher, and online payday loans average over 650% APR.
  • 94% of all borrowers take out another loan within a month and more than half take out a new loan the SAME DAY their old loan was due.
  • One in six borrowers lose their car on top of paying steep interest and fees on car title loans

Last year, NPA and our affiliates organized and got the big banks OUT of the business of ripping off their own customers through checking account payday loans. Now we are focused on cleaning up the rest of the industry to stop the worst of the abuses through an upcoming rule-making from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

For the first time in history, Congress has given a federal agency the authority to uniformly regulate small-dollar consumer loans: the payday, installment and related loan industries that strip billions in wealth from our communities and trap our families and neighbors in endless debt. Created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Accountability Act, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was given the authority to regulate non-bank financial institutions, including the small dollar loan industry.

We are demanding that the CFPB issue rules that are both strong enough to end the debt trap and broad enough to cover all the industry.

Join us in calling for strong, common sense rules that level the playing field for responsible small dollar lenders and that will stop the stripping of wealth from our families and neighbors.

Want to learn more about the vicious payday loan sharks preying on our communities? Check out the Shark Week 2015 page from our partners at National People’s Action and the Preyday Lenders page from more info.

Stop racist rhetoric and legislation on refugees

The U.S. Congress should be ashamed. Today, House Republicans, joined by 47 Democrats, hastily passed a bill that would effectively end the current U.S. refugee program for refugees fleeing the brutal civil war in Syria — a war our government is actively involved in.

This week, following the tragic terror attacks in Paris, politicians in our country have flooded the airwaves and the internet with racist and alarmist rhetoric. At a time when we should be embracing all victims of violence, they are asking us be hateful.

Senator Ted Cruz and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush have called for excluding all but Christian refugees, an idea both inhumane and repugnant to our basic values. More than half of governors have said they’ll reject refugees. This is xenophobic posturing — blocking refugees is not within their authority — but it’s damaging all the same.

President Obama has vowed to veto the bill, reminding Congress that the refugee screening process is extremely rigorous and lengthy, taking 18 to 24 months. That’s far too long.

Only 2,200 Syrian refugees have come to the U.S. since the civil war began in 2011, according to the Washington Post. The White House proposes adding an additional 10,000 over the next year. Meanwhile, the civil war has driven more than 11 million people from their homes. They are looking for places to rebuild their lives. We can and should do a lot more.

Closing the door to refugees is about hate and fear — not about safety. There’s no evidence refugees had anything to do with the Paris attacks, or that curbing refugees would make anyone safer. It won’t.

France has chosen the wiser path, reaffirming its commitment to take 30,000 Syrian refugees. In the wake of their own suffering, the French haven’t turned against the most vulnerable in their moment of greatest need.

We reject racism, xenophobia, and religious intolerance. We join with all voices of conscience that mourn victims of violence around the world and call for a nationwide welcome of refugees.

Please sign this petition calling on Governors to stop the collective punishment of refugees in need

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NY Fast food workers win $15 minimum wage

Fast food workers in New York are getting a raise!

Hard work by our affiliates Citizen Action New York and Make the Road New York – along with dozens of other allied organizations and unions, and thousands of workers who took to the streets and shared their personal stories – has paid off  in a huge victory.

Yesterday, the New York State Wage Board approved gradually raising the minimum wage for New York City fast food chain employees to $15 an hour by 2018. Fast food workers throughout New York state will gradually raise to $15 an hour by 2021.

“This is a huge victory for fast food workers, and for everyone working for low wages in New York,” said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society.  “It puts pressure on employers in other low-paying industries to start paying their workers a living wage.

“I applaud the hard work of everyone who fought for this important moment,” said Hall.

Fast food workers are paid less than any other occupation, and fast food work is projected to be the second largest growing occupation (PDF) in the country, with more openings than nearly any other.

This momentous victory brings fast food workers in New York significantly closer to earning a wage that will allow them to support themselves. It will boost their own financial stability, their communities, and the economy for all of us.

In New York and many other states, $15 is still a modest wage. This increase however allows workers to come closer to making ends meet.

In the report “Families Out of Balance” by the Alliance for a Just Society, our research shows that a living wage for a single adult is $18.47 an hour in New York state and is $22.49 an hour in New York City.

A pay raise is long overdue for all our workers nationwide. Tomorrow marks six years since the federal government last raised the minimum wage – to $7.25 on July 24, 2009.

A bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate Wednesday by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and in the House by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

If the wage can be raised in Seattle and New York and Los Angeles and so many other cities, it can be raised nationally – and we can do it.

Congratulations New York! The struggle continues!unnamed (4)

Direct from Main Street: Maine Small Business Views on Credit and Lending

This report shares the findings of a survey of Maine small businesses, focusing on their experiences with credit and their reactions to one current proposal to support small business and economic growth: the creation of a state bank. This report contributes to the discussion of such a proposal by sharing the perspectives of Maine’s Main Street small businesses.

Click here to download the full report. Continue reading “Direct from Main Street: Maine Small Business Views on Credit and Lending”

Montanans Stop Drastic State Budget Cuts

Last week, on April 28, the 62nd Montana Legislative Session came to a close. The session was a contentious one, featuring some of the worst budget cut proposals in state history. Faced with devastating cuts to health and human services, education, and public employee jobs and salaries, members of the Montana Organizing Project responded by rallying, telling their stories, making phone calls and writing letters to their legislators throughout the session. MOP and its partners tirelessly made the case that Montanans deserve better. And, when the session was over, $150 million in crucial funding — three-quarters of the budgets cuts — was restored. Continue reading “Montanans Stop Drastic State Budget Cuts”

Montanans Rally for Budget Courage, Not Cuts

On Friday, April 1st, 2011, 1,500 Montanans flooded the Capitol lawn to voice their objections to sweeping and hurtful cuts in the Montana state budget. “Courage, Not Cuts!,” was their rallying cry. The  “No Fooling with Our Future Rally” was presented by  Montana Organizing Project leaders and activists, who partnered with many groups within the Partnership for Montana’s Future.

Continue reading “Montanans Rally for Budget Courage, Not Cuts”

On Tax Day, Some Alarming Tax Stats

Did you know…

  • The federal government collected less in taxes in 2010 than it has in over three generations, and tax rates are at historic lows
  • The Bush tax legacy means we currently tax wealth less than work: middle-income paychecks are taxed at 25% compared to stock dividends and capital gains for the wealthiest, which are taxed at a top rate of only 15%.

These statistics come from Demos’ Taxes Matter Top Ten Stats. During the week leading up to Tax Day, Demos, a public policy and advocacy organization, has been publishing articles and infographics on how we think about taxes. Read more at Our Fiscal Security.

Washington CAN! Leads Takeover of State Capitol to Protest Budget Cuts

At 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6, Lieutenant  Mark Arras of the Washington State Patrol addressed a crowd of 100 people who had filled the Capitol Building rotunda with sleeping bags and pillows. They had taken up camp in the Capitol to protest state budget cuts slashing social services like health care and education. “We are asking you to leave,” Arras said. “If you are waiting for us to arrest you, we are not going to do that. We respect your right to be here. Please work with us, and we will work with you.”

Arras was greeted with cheers, thanks, and applause, which quickly gave way to a chant that had been heard many times that day, “Whose house? Our house!” Continue reading “Washington CAN! Leads Takeover of State Capitol to Protest Budget Cuts”