CRL in the News
As early as Valentine’s Day, the House of Representatives will vote on Rep. McHenry’s legislation, H.R. 3299, which would let financial companies, including online payday and installment lenders, charge North Carolinians 100 percent APR and potentially far higher – and override our state’s interest rate caps. If this bill becomes law, it would bless the “rent-a-bank” scheme whereby these nonbank entities form sham partnerships with banks that technically originate the loan in order to evade strong state laws.
According to Delvin Davis, with the Center for Responsible Lending, about 60 percent of people detained at the Durham jail in 2016 were held pretrial. Of that group, about 40 percent of the pretrial population (24 percent of the total population) was held on a bond of $5,000 or less.
“This actually has happened in North Carolina before. We know it is possible. We know that payday lenders will try to evade our very strong state interest rate cap exactly because this happened before,” said Kelly Tornow, the director of North Carolina policy for the Center for Responsible Lending.
More than 150 civil rights, consumer, faith and community organizations oppose H.R. 3299 including, Americans for Financial Reform, Center for American Progress, Center for Economic Integrity, Center for Responsible Lending, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, NAACP, National Association of Consumer Advocates, Prosperity Works, Southern Poverty Law Center and United for a Fair Economy.
A vote is expected imminently in the House on the so-called “Madden” bill, which, if it becomes law would spread predatory triple-digit loans, like a virus, to every state in America. The legislation would ensnare borrowers in financially devastating debt traps.
“The Federal Reserve sanctions show the power and importance of government oversight in holding accountable companies that engage in abusive and harmful practices,” said Deborah Goldstein, executive vice president for the financial services watchdog Center for Responsible Lending, in an email to me.
Yana Miles, senior legislative counsel for the Center for Responsible Lending, said Mulvaney "is finding new ways to sabotage the consumer bureau."
"The administration should recognize the severe harm Mulvaney is doing to the public and nominate a director who has people's interest at heart," she said.
Now that would be a wonder.
However, the bill faces political headwinds, including opposition from consumer groups that worry the plan does not go as far as the current system to support affordable housing. "The bill is kind of a nonstarter for us at this point,” said Scott Astrada, director of federal advocacy at the Center for Responsible Lending.
To consumer advocates, the defanging of the consumer bureau is the epitome of pay-to-play. “They aggressively lobby against anything that goes against the debt trap nature of their business model,” said Diane Standaert, the director of state policy at the Center for Responsible Lending. “It’s been fierce.”
“Opening up the floodgates on lending discrimination will damage the ability for people of color to build wealth,” said Debbie Goldstein, executive vice president of the Center for Responsible Lending.