I was broke about a decade ago.
After being laid off from a computer programming job, I had drained my savings and ruined my creditworthiness.
I lived in Nashville, Tennessee and raised two teenagers on a single income. There were times when money couldn’t go from one month to another. So I started using payday loans.
I took out loans from retail stores and internet lenders and quickly found myself caught in a debt trap; I kept borrowing money to repay the last loan (plus fees).
Fortunately, I finally got out of the payday loan cycle when my sister loaned me $ 2,600 and let me repay the money one by one.
Today I work as a home nurse here in Jacksonville – and while I haven’t taken out a payday loan since 2015, I still get calls from online lenders with aggressive sales pitches.
Payday lenders target low-income borrowers, which is one reason why they are effectively banned in many states. But this type of lending remains legal in Florida and much of the United States.
During President Donald Trump’s tenure, payday lenders worked hard to take back protection for consumers. And the payday loan industry is a strong special interest in our country; According to statistics, she has spent nearly $ 57 million lobbying in Washington since 2008.
Today, more than ever, we need laws that focus on protecting the average American from those who try to exploit them.
So it was encouraging when the US House of Representatives recently passed the For the People Act – a comprehensive law designed to help repair our broken political system. Unfortunately, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stubbornly refused to bring it up in the US Senate. We need to press McConnell and others to act.
It is time our government showed that it works for the American people – not the country’s payday loan industry.
Wayne Wright lives in Jacksonville.