"A rose by any other name" equals a rose.
"Put lipstick on a pig" equals a pig.
"Micro-loan program" equals a predatory payday loan/debt trap.
Seeking to protect vulnerable people from being trapped in a vicious debt cycle, Pennsylvania has long outlawed the usurious practice of predatory payday loans.
However, lenders are trying to undo these limits. Last year, House Bill 2191, which would have undone this 100-plus-year-old protection, thankfully never made it to the floor for a vote.
While no such legislation has yet to be introduced, state Sen. Patrick Browne, R-Allentown, is seeking co-sponsors. Rather than calling it "payday lending," it is touted as a "micro-loan program" promising a "reasonable annual percentage interest rate" to "eliminate the endless cycle of debt," to "strengthen consumer protection" and to "protect our military families and veterans."
Existing laws have been doing this for years. A broad-based coalition is up against a well-financed lobby seeking to undo this protection. Among the coalition partners are: AARP, the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, the Pennsylvania War Veterans Council Inc., Society of St. Vincent De Paul -- Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, United Methodist Advocacy in Pennsylvania and Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania.
While an overwhelming number of individuals and organizations oppose the legalization of payday lending, the voice of opposition needs to be heard at the Capitol. However, our legislators might not be there. They may be out for lunch or a fine dinner courtesy of the finance industry.
Please contact your legislators, asking them to oppose the legalization of payday lending (regardless of what it may be called). For more information, see www.stoppaydayloanspa.com.
REV. PAUL L. LUBOLD
The writer is advocacy developer for Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania.