Religious, civil rights and consumer groups today briefed congressional lawmakers and staff on why all families should be covered by the 36 percent rate cap on consumer loans that already protects military families. Over 70 percent of Americans support a cap of 36 percent or less.
"The issue of payday loans is an economic justice issue, and it is a moral issue," said Bishop Minerva Carcaño of the Desert Southwest Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in Arizona. Arizona and Ohio voters last fall sent a strong message to the payday industry when they used the ballot box to boot abusive payday lending practices from their states.
The groups sponsoring today's briefing were the Black Leadership Forum, Center for Responsible Lending, Consumer Federation of America, Inter-religious Working Group on Domestic Human Needs, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, NAACP and the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials. Each supports the need to rid the nation of payday loans with triple-digit interest rates.
These loans, which often carry an APR of 400 percent, trap the average payday borrower in a cycle of debt that forces the borrower to pay much more in interest and fees than he or she originally borrowed. Black and Latino families have been especially hard hit by these predatory products, just as they have been in the subprime mortgage debacle.
The briefing comes as Congress considers proposals to cap annual interest rates at 36 percent for consumer loans. In 2006 Congress passed such a loan cap for military families. A two-digit cap is the only measure that has stopped predatory payday lending in the 15 states plus DC that enforce it.
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