Debt-Trap Debbie Swimming With the Loan Sharks

Debt-Trap Debbie needs to stop shilling for predatory payday lenders who siphon $8 billion in fees and interest each year from those who can least afford it.

That was the message delivered this week to Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s doorstep at the Democratic National Committee, which she chairs, by a hundred grassroots leaders from National People’s Action, Alliance for a Just Society, USAction, and allies.

Decrying the “Sharknado” of debt brought on by the loan shark industry, the leaders arrived with more than 13,000 signatures calling on Wasserman Schultz to stop accepting money from the payday lending industry and stop sponsoring legislation that prioritizes predatory lenders over everyday families.

debt speakerThe grassroots leaders found the doors to Wasserman Schultz’ office building closed to them – so they turned up the heat with chants reminding Wasserman Schultz that they were determined to beat back the shark attack.

While leaders waved signs reading “Sharknado 4, starring Debbie Wasserman Schultz, produced and directed by the payday loan industry,” speakers from throughout the country testified to the devastation they and their communities have suffered.

“Once you’re swept up into the tornado of debt one loan turns into another in a cycle that just doesn’t let up,” said Candice Byrd, a member of Illinois People’s Action who spoke at the event. “It has been a nightmare for my family and me. We need our elected officials to stand with us against these predators, not in their pockets.”

Wasserman Schultz is cozy with the predatory payday lenders, having taken $68,000 in campaign contributions from the industry over the last 10 years.

Aide from Deebies officeNow she’s co-sponsoring legislation that would gut the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s efforts to crack down on these debt predators – and she’s lobbying her colleagues in Congress to sign on as well.

The Los Angeles Times’ David Lazarus calls her bill (H.R. 4018) “a shameless effort by the payday-loan industry, acting through congressional proxies, to avoid federal rules that would require more responsible behavior. The only choice it offers consumers is the ability to keep taking out high-interest loans even if it’s clear they can’t make payments.”

That’s why the leaders chanted even louder as barricades were brought out, then prayed for families devastated by predatory payday lenders – and for Wasserman Schultz, who does the bidding for an industry that charges up to 390 percent in interest rates.

The voices of so many persistent leaders were too powerful to ignore. After at first resisting a meeting, a representative for Wasserman Schultz emerged from behind the doors to accept the petition and a letter to Wasserman Schultz.

The leaders who descended on the Wasserman’s Schultz’s office will continue the fight.

They are determined not only to stop legislation bought by the predatory debt industry but to also win strong rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Joining with Stop the Debt Trap Campaign, they will push for a small-dollar credit system that meets the needs of families and communities, and helps build an economy that’s equitable for all.

CHIP’s Two-Year Reprieve

This week, Congress passed legislation funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program for an additional two years. The bill passed with strong majorities and bipartisan support.

There’s the good news in that legislative development: the bill included none of the attacks on CHIP – including provisions specifically targeting immigrant children – that had surfaced in previous proposals. CHIP will remain strong as one of the country’s most important health coverage programs, thanks to a vigorous defense from community groups across the country.

But Congress has still put CHIP on a two-year deadline. With this kind of short-term funding, kids and their families – including kids with ongoing courses of treatment – can’t feel secure about their health care. Two years isn’t enough – no one’s health care follows that kind of legislative calendar, and kids’ health care shouldn’t be expected to.

The Road to Prosperity

Road to Prosperity coverGiving Idaho Immigrants the Chance to Apply for a Driver’s License Cultivates a Future of Shared Opportunity and Success to the Benefit of All Idahoans

Read: The Road to Prosperity

This report was produced by Julie Chinitz, Ben Henry, Fernando Mejia and Sheley Secrest of the Alliance for a Just Society, and Krista Bustamante, Ana Martinez and Ruby Mendez of Idaho Community Action Network.

http://allianceforajustsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/2015.02_The.Road_.to_.Prosperity-report-Idaho.pdf

Surprise: Aetna Funneled Millions to Chamber of Commerce

It looks like insurance giant Aetna made more than $4M in political donations to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last year (and another $3M to conservative advocacy group American Action Network).

This news emerged in an accidental — and later amended — disclosure. Aetna says it handed over the dollars for educational purposes and not for lobbying — and also says there’s no need to require any additional disclosure of corporate political spending.

Our premium dollars at work?

Is this what “secret ballot” means?

In the United States, the secret ballot is a long-standing tradition. But that refers to our choices as voters remaining secret – not to the idea that we don’t know who we’re voting for.

But now we’re living in the world of Citizens United, in which outside groups can pool rich people’s millions with corporations’ millions to influence elections, all without disclosing whose interests they’re promoting. Read more

We Don’t Have to be United States, Inc.

Photo by ToGa Wanderings

 

A couple of days ago, the New York Times reported that the super PACs backing President Obama had fallen far behind on fundraising, and it’s not clear they’re going to catch up with their Republican counterparts.

According to the Times, “Mr. Obama’s backers on Wall Street are leery of their money being used for attacks on Mr. Romney’s background in private equity, already the topic of millions of dollars’ worth of slash-and-burn advertising this year from a super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich.” Read more

99% Red Balloons for Economic Equity

While Fortune 500 corporations duck out of state taxes, legislators continue to put public services on the chopping block, but still the 1% isn’t being told that they need to do their part when it comes to balancing state budgets.

Last week, the Washington Community Action Network fought back at a special session of the legislature:

 On Tuesday, Washington CAN! and our allies headed to Olympia to protest the Special Session and the additional $2 billion in budget cuts that are going to be made. Tuesday’s events focused on the personal stories of those affected by the cuts, putting a face to the growing 99% movement.

Click here for Washington CAN’s full report-back.

No Deal Is Better than a Bad Deal

Yesterday morning in Washington D.C., the Alliance for a Just Society helped crash a swanky fundraising event where Senator John Kyl was trawling for cash from corporate bigwigs. Kyl sits on the congressional joint committee tasked with reducing the federal deficit. While Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security hang in the balance, corporations and the one percent continue are counting on Kyl and the other “supercommittee” members to protect their outsized tax breaks. Read more