Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the conservative wing of the Democratic Party

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of the 23rd Congressional District in Florida, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, has been the subject of considerable criticism from Democratic base activists. David Dayen describes some of the reasons why in This Obama Endorsement Is a Sign Pro-Corporate Democrats Are Getting Nervous The Intercept 05/29/2016

More recently, Wasserman Schultz sponsored a bill that would severely hamper the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s proposed regulations for payday lenders. The bill would pre-empt the CFPB rule in favor of state laws like Florida’s, an industry-backed model that permits borrowers to take out an average of nine payday loans a year at an interest rate of 278 percent.

Payday lenders have cost Floridians $2.5 billion in fees over the last decade, according to a recent report, which has fallen disproportionately on African-Americans and Latinos. Wasserman Schultz also voted for a bill that would have gutted CFPB rules prohibiting racial discrimination by auto lenders.
Bill Moyers and Michael Winship also criticized Wasserman Schultz as well as corporate Dem Rahm Rahm Emanuel, currently mayor of Chicago, in Time for These Two Democrats to Go Moyers & Company 03/22/2016. Here is their take on the payday loan bill:

But here’s just about the worst of it. Rep. Wasserman Schultz — the people’s representative, right? — has aligned herself with corporate interests out to weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s effort to create national standards for the payday-lending industry, a business that in particular targets the poor. Payday loans, as Yuka Hayashi writes at The Wall Street Journal, “are quick credits of a few hundred dollars, with effective annual interest rates ranging between 300% and 500%. Loans are due in a lump sum on the borrower’s next payday, a structure that often sends people into cycles of debt by forcing them to take out new loans to repay the old ones.”

According to the nonpartisan Americans for Financial Reform, this tail-chasing cycle of “turned” loans to pay off previous loans makes up about 76 percent of the payday loan business. The Pew Charitable Trust found that in Wasserman Schultz’s home state, the average payday loan customer takes out nine such loans a year, which usually has them mired in debt for about half a year.

No wonder radio host and financial guru Dave Ramsey describes the payday loan business, which loans $38.5 billion a year, as “scum-sucking, bottom-feeding predatory people who have no moral restraint.” The very people, it must be acknowledged, who now have an ally in the chair of the Democratic National Committee, who has so engineered the rules of the current Democratic primary process so as to virtually assure her unlimited access to a Clinton White House where she can walk in freely to press the case for her, ahem, “scum-sucking, bottom-feeding predatory” donors and pals.

So imagine now the Democratic National Convention this July. Presiding over it will be, yes, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, tribune for a party of incumbency, money and crony capitalism. Follow her as she makes the rounds of private parties where zillionaire donors, lobbyists and consultants transact the real business of politics. Watch as she and Hizzoner Rahm Emanuel of Chicago greet and embrace. Then imagine those thousands of young people outside the convention hall who have arrived from long months of campaigning earnestly for reform of the party they see as an instrument of their future, as well as members of Black Lives Matter and other people of color for whom Rahm Emanuel is the incarnation of deceit and oppression.
Yes, Virginia, there are conservative Democrats. And if Il Duce Donald and his Storm Trumpers actually do wind up crippling the Republican Party, the donor class will likely step up their efforts to strengthen the conservative wing of the party.

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