As many as one in five members of the armed services are being preyed on by loan centers set up near military bases that can charge cash-strapped military families interest of 400% or more, a new Pentagon report has found.
Steep lending charges have long plagued servicemembers, but the problem has become a more urgent concern to the military as it has struggled to fill its ranks during the Iraq war. That's because debt troubles can keep troops from going overseas.
"We're seeing a growing trend of folks who are not eligible to deploy because of financial problems," says Capt. Mark Patton, commander of Naval Base Point Loma in California. Patton says debt problems can cost some servicemembers their security clearances.
Lenders typically charge $15 to $25 per $100 loan for two weeks, and most loans are extended for several weeks. The report says the average loan is $350 and has an annual interest rate of 390% to 780%. The average borrower, it says, pays back $834 for a $339 loan.
Unreal! I know when I was in the military there were tons of these places just outside the gates of the base. I had some understanding of what they were doing so I avoided them like the plague and just found ways to entertain myself with out money. But there were plenty of guys who did use them, especially the ones with families. Clammyc wrote about this report back in August, when it received very little attention from the press.
Congress is trying to address the problem, which obviously has become a national security issue.
The Conflict, Rich with Irony
From Think Progress
The Pentagon has joined consumer, military, and veterans groups in backing a bipartisan amendment from Sens. Jim Talent (R-MO) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) that places a cap of 36 percent on high interest rates for short-term payday loans to military members.
But one conservative congressman, Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY), is trying to gut the amendment. Davis has proposed his own language -- praised by the payday lending industry -- that sets no real limits on predatory lenders. One of Davis's aides admitted last week that he consulted on the legislation with "CNG Financial of Mason, Ohio, one of his top campaign donors and owner of national payday lender Check `n Go."
OMFG! Yet another Republican, reeking of the dirty money smell that pervades loan sharks! Willing to endanger national security and suck our soldiers penniless at the bidding of his amoral, usurious buddies. Truly wretched behavior.
So now its time to turn that anger into action. This is a story that should deeply resonate with what's left of the GOP base. I don't know anyone in Kentucky, but you might, so send them a link to this story. Point out to them that its a Republican working to weaken our soldiers, and that its to a payday lender. Anyone that's ever dealt with them knows what a ripoff they are, and now they've got a Republican in Kentucky that's bought and paid for.
What's even better, Geoff Davis is ready to have an anvil tossed his way.:
In an election today, 9/19/2006, in Kentucky's 4th Congressional District, Democrat Ken Lucas leads Republican incumbent Geoff Davis, 48% to 44%, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for WCPO-TV Cincinnati. Since an identical SurveyUSA poll released 8/10/06, Lucas, who represented the 4th District from 1999 through 2004, has gained 4 points.
This guy is vulnerable. Let's amplify this story as much as possible for two reasons:
*Impossible as it may seem, we should try and shame him into withdrawing his amending language that works for the payday lenders and doesn't work for our soldiers. You can contact Davis's office at(202)225-3465 or at the toll-free congressional switchboard (ask for Davis's office) at (866) 808-0065.
*Davis's acts are the perfect symbol of the values of this modern GOP. Many people who may be on the fence in terms of supporting a GOP candidate need just one more clear example of why they should not do that. Here's one to which many people can relate.