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The politics of payday lending

The Creigh Deeds campaign says Terry McAuliffe has taken aim at “Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, and Democratic leaders in the General Assembly” on payday lending “(i)nstead of targeting Republicans who have stood in the way of payday lending reform.”
As with most political swipes, this one is, well, partly true.

“The legislature is finally working towards fixing this problem. But why has it taken so long to stop preying on Virginia’s most vulnerable families?” a female announcer asks rhetorically in a radio spot produced for the McAuliffe campaign to highlight the candidate’s plan to ban predatory payday lenders.

The idea that the ad is a criticism of Warner and Kaine is a stretch, but I’ll give the Deeds folks that stretch. “Some loans came at too high a price because legislation that was passed in Richmond in 2002 allowed payday lenders to do business in Virginia,” the announcer says in the ad. That’s the dig at Warner, as long as you remember that it was Warner who as governor in 2002 signed the Payday Loan Act of 2002 that opened the door to Virginia to the industry.

But it’s also a dig at legislative Republicans, who were very much in the majority in the General Assembly in 2002.

The smack at Kaine is just as much a stretch, but again I’ll give that to the Deeds people. “(W)hy has it taken so long” indeed is the question. This is me editorializing, but I think Kaine actually played a detrimental role in the fight to get the payday-lending industry out of the Commonwealth with his support of the watered-down reforms that have passed the General Assembly the last two years that advocates of repeal of the 2002 law fear has set their cause back a bit.

Bottom line is the 2002 law opened the Old Dominion to this cockroach of a money-thieving industry, the law is still on the books, and even with the attempts to compromise a way around nuking payday lenders and their car-title brethren into oblivion, they’re still in practically every strip mall and on every street corner with an open space for rent.

“Terry McAuliffe’s negative attack on Mark Warner, Tim Kaine and Democratic leaders in the General Assembly does nothing to help us beat Bob McDonnell and hurts our chances of winning back the House of Delegates in November,” Deeds campaign manager Joe Abbey said in a statement on the McAuliffe ad. “How can middle-class families trust someone who says he won’t run a negative campaign, and then puts up a radio ad that criticizes not only his opponents, but Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, and every Democrat in the General Assembly?”

Again, it’s a stretch, but if you want to stretch it to include Deeds and Brian Moran, the answer here isn’t more reform by way of blocking us from doing what needs to be done to get payday and car-title lenders the hell out of Virginia forever.


– Story by Chris Graham