Debbie Wasserman Schultz plays both sides of payday lending

Last week, Florida congresswoman and DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced that she was signing on as an original cosponsor of the Stopping Abuse and Fraud in Electronic (SAFE) Lending Act, which would prohibit payday lenders from having access to borrowers’ bank accounts, close loopholes in the payday lending system and “ban lead generators and anonymous payday lending.” A partner bill has also been introduced in the Senate, featuring progressive co-sponsors Tammy Baldwin, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, among others.

The bill is, by all accounts, a solid piece of legislation. Payday lending has recently found its way into the crosshairs of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, among other consumer protection organizations, as being an industry that takes advantage of borrowers by trapping them in a cycle of debt, turning initial loans of a few hundred dollars into four or five-figure debts. The SAFE Lending Act would curtail some of the industry’s worst abuses.

However, Wasserman Schultz’s co-sponsorship of the bill makes her a bit of an oddball. As Allied Progress and a collection of other advocacy organizations pointed out in a letter sent to her office yesterday, she remains a co-sponsor of H.R. 4018. Wasserman Schultz previously faced widespread criticism from the progressive community over that bill because it is specifically designed to both make it harder for the CFPB to regulate payday lending and to encourage states outside of Florida to adopt policies favorable to payday lenders. As the Huffington Post explained:

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, via Wikimedia Commons

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, via Wikimedia Commons

The misleadingly titled Consumer Protection and Choice Act would delay the CFPB’s payday lending rules by two years, and nullify its rules in any state with a payday lending law like the one adopted in Florida. The memo being passed around by Wasserman Schultz staffers describes the Florida state law as a “model” for consumer laws on payday loans, and says the CFPB should “adjust their payday lending rules to take into account actions Florida has already taken.”

Among the CFPB’s planned rules include limits on the number of loans one can take out per year and the number of loans one can take out at a time, along with requirements that lenders check borrowers’ ability to pay before issuing loans.

Currently, payday borrowers often pay interest rates of more than 300%, with the average borrower taking out nine loans before exiting the cycle — often through default. Three quarters of the industry’s revenue comes through borrowers taking out loans to pay previous loans — not to pay off their original loan.

The industry was the perfect combination of shady and under the radar for John Oliver to make it the subject of a feature segment in 2014:

Technically, there isn’t anything contradictory between H.R. 4018 and the SAFE Lending Act. Nothing in the former would be negated by the latter; they affect different parts of the payday lending industry. However, the two bills definitely have opposite goals: One would make it easier for payday lenders to make gobs of cash off of low-income borrowers — both in Florida and elsewhere — while the other one would make it more difficult. Taken together, this makes it strange, to say the least, that Debbie Wasserman Schultz has her name on both of them — even stranger when one considers the fact that she is the only member of the House to be a co-sponsor of both bills.

Given the context, it certainly seems to be the case that Debbie Wasserman Schultz noticed the backlash she received for co-sponsoring H.R. 4018, and is using the SAFE Lending Act as progressive cover. She clearly gets that the politics surrounding this issue aren’t great — payday lenders don’t exactly have a high favorability rating — but she also apparently still wants to push legislation that will allow them to expand their predatory businesses.

She shouldn’t get off so easy. Until she drops her support from H.R. 4018, her co-sponsorship of the SAFE Lending Act simply can’t be taken seriously.

You can read Allied Progress’s letter for more background here.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

Share This Post

  • Tony TV

    Just pointing out the futility of all the harping from people who can’t or won’t do anything about their complaints. But I totally support your right to vent.

  • Reckless Mediocrity

    I’ve signed them all!

  • Reckless Mediocrity

    Yup, it’s sick. If you can’t make bail for being caught with a joint then it’s off to the Payday Lender Barons who charge a 600% APR.

  • Reckless Mediocrity

    Who the hell wants to move to Florida? ??

  • Tony TV

    It’s easy to scapegoat here. Always is, But just from reading the article it appears that neither of these bills would do much to eliminate this horrific practice. Instead of blaming Schultz for a problem she didn’t create, get off your asses and let YOUR representatives know that you want these practices outlawed, and that you won’t let them be until something meaningful is done. And if they don’t join a community group or organization that supports candidates that think like you do. That’s what they’re talking about when they say “grass roots.” Either that or keep bitching.

  • Tony TV

    Move to Florida. Register to vote. Tell your friends.

  • dcinsider

    If the Dems try harder they could find someone more offensive than Ted Cruz in drag for chair, but I’m not sure it’s possible.

  • Dorothypdunham1

    “my room mate Lori Is getting paid on the internet 98$/hr”…..!cc170atwo days ago grey MacLaren P1 I bought after earning 18,512 DoIIars..it was my previous month’s payout..just a little over.17k DoIIars Last month..3-5 hours job a day…with weekly payouts..it’s realy the simplest. job I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over. hourly 87 DoIIars…Learn. More right Here !cc170a:➽:➽:➽➽➽➽ http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsPageGetPayHourly$98…. .❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦::::::!cc170a….,..

  • PamGuss
  • Earlenejcarson

    “my room mate Lori Is getting paid on the internet 98$/hr”…..!cc686gtwo days ago grey MacLaren P1 I bought after earning 18,512 DoIIars..it was my previous month’s payout..just a little over.17k DoIIars Last month..3-5 hours job a day…with weekly payouts..it’s realy the simplest. job I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over. hourly 87 DoIIars…Learn. More right Here !cc686g:➽:➽:➽➽➽➽ http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsHawkGetPayHourly$98…. .❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦::::::!cc686g….,…

  • Cenk is a liar and genocide deniar (the Armenian one). Fuck that asshole.

    btw, if they are for the upper middle class that includes a lot more than 1%. At least get your story straight.

  • 1nancy2

    Deb Downer-Schultz is awful; I abhor her and Hill. Dem’s are going to lose and I say they did all by themselves. They have not won in years, lost senate, house, legislatures, gov’s, mayor’s, you name it. They s*ck and are not for the 99% only, as Cenk says, “Upper middle class and the cocktail crowd”. Outrageous.

  • 4wonderland

    If we passed some sane kind of campaign finance reform, our Politicians would not have to spend 30 hrs. per week dialing for dollars. Congress is reelected every two years. Our system requires all politicians to spend 75% of their time fundraising to run for the next election. It’s not just the Presidential election and it’s not just Super Pac’s the entire system is absurd. We bitch about Politicians doing nothing and then we set them up for failure. The US should take the Billions out of running for office and each qualified candidate should be given the same amount of public money to run their Campaign. No super-Pac, no dialing for dollars. The only way to get good people to serve is to take the burden of prostituting yourself for money every two years.

  • This individual is the type that creates the momentum leading to anti-semitism. Her sense of self importance and limitless arrogance chronicles the sad outcome of this race of people. History speaks to it and she does as well. Sad, very very sad indeed.

  • Skye Winspur

    In my town several payday lending and car title loan shops cluster around the big fortress-like State Department of Corrections building. The connection could not be more obvious if you stop to think about it.

  • Martha Barnes

    “my room mate Lori Is getting paid on the internet 98$/hr”…..!cc277gtwo days ago grey MacLaren P1 I bought after earning 18,512 DoIIars..it was my previous month’s payout..just a little over.17k DoIIars Last month..3-5 hours job a day…with weekly payouts..it’s realy the simplest. job I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over. hourly 87 DoIIars…Learn. More right Here !cc277g:➽:➽:➽➽➽➽ http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsTheoryGetPayHourly$98…. .❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦::::::!cc277g….,…

  • That’s exactly what it is. In the 70s people went to prison for lending money at 25% interest. And that was with a prime rate a lot higher than it is now. These days many people pay more than that for credit card interest. We need serious reform and payday lenders would be a good place to start. Bloodsucking scumbags should be in jail and everyone who enables them should be unelectable and shunned by anyone with a shred of decency.

  • If you you want to know how bad things are for the working poor, look at how many payday lenders and title note lenders you see. Poor used to mean paycheck to paycheck. Now if you can get from one paycheck to the next that’s a couple of rungs up because a lot of people can’t even pay for the basics while working full time.

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz needs to be replaced at both the DNC and from her seat in Congress. What a sorry excuse for humanity.

  • If I didn’t already loathe her, I would over this.

  • It depends. Will not supporting it lead to the unraveling of everything we hold dear? If you support Sanders’ revolution, then you don’t embrace a course that will undo everything he and you are fighting for. It’s a pretty clear, and irrefutable, argument :)

  • confusion

    There is a special place in .. there is nothing to add to such a vile corporation and the vile people that support ‘ payday lending ‘.

  • hiker_sf

    These “businesses” suck millions of dollars out of already poor communities and disproportionately affect poor people. In one year in Oakland, according to tax records they charged more than $3 million in fees. That’s a lot of food on the table and catching-up on back rent for a lot of people.

    If you get a paycheck from someone, you should be able to cash it without fees, PERIOD.

    Regulate these “businesses” out of businesses. Every city hall should put their banking needs out to bid and a requirement of contract is a special program to cash check for the poor.

    Shame on an ‘affluent society’ that allows shit like this. And dump Wasserman-Schultz.

  • Carmenffriedel2

    “my room mate Lori Is getting paid on the internet 98$/hr”…..!cc866ctwo days ago grey MacLaren P1 I bought after earning 18,512 DoIIars..it was my previous month’s payout..just a little over.17k DoIIars Last month..3-5 hours job a day…with weekly payouts..it’s realy the simplest. job I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over. hourly 87 DoIIars…Learn. More right Here !cc866n:➽:➽:➽➽➽➽ http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsEnjoyGetPayHourly$98…. .❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦::::::!cc866n….,….

  • Agree saw advertised rate in a check cashing place in CA, of 685% really need to bring back usury laws even leg breaker would gag at that rate.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Democrat/Dixiecrat politicians – all of them – and their Republican brothers and sisters are two faced liars. They have to be.

  • Max_1

    John,
    Don’t we have a duty to support this, too?

  • Legalized loan-sharking is what these operations are.

© 2018 AMERICAblog Media, LLC. All rights reserved. · Entries RSS