President Obama, in his weekly address, noted that five years ago after the worst financial crisis in decades, his administration passed historic Wall Street reform to end the era of bailouts and too big to fail.
He explained that as part of that reform, an independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created with one mission – that of protecting American consumers from some of the worst practices of the financial industry.
He said that already the Bureau has put $5 billion back in the pockets of more than 15 million families. He also noted that they have taken an important first step towards cracking down on some of the most abusive practices involving payday loans.
The President also said, “Millions of Americans take out these loans every year. In Alabama, where I visited this week, there are four times as many payday lending stores as there are McDonald’s. But while payday loans might seem like easy money, folks often end up trapped in a cycle of debt. If you take out a $500 loan, it’s easy to wind up paying more than $1,000 in interest and fees.”
He posited that the step the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced recently is designed to change that practice.
“The idea is pretty common sense: if you’re a payday lender preparing to give a loan, you should make sure that the borrower can afford to pay it back first,” he said.
He underscored the point that part of the free market economy in America, is making a profit. However, he said there was something fundamentally wrong with making that profit by trapping hard-working men and women in a vicious cycle of debt.
“Protecting working Americans’ paychecks shouldn’t be a partisan issue. But the budget Republicans unveiled last week would make it harder, not easier, to crack down on financial fraud and abuse. And this week, when Republicans rolled out their next economic idea, it had nothing to do with the middle class. It was a new, more-than-$250 billion tax cut for the top one-tenth of the top one percent of Americans. That would mean handing out an average tax cut of $4 million a year to just 4,000 Americans per year, and leaving the rest of the country to pay for it,” the President argued.
President Obama further said he does not think the top economic priority should be helping a tiny number of Americans who are already doing extraordinarily well, and asking everybody else to foot the bill.
He said that he thinks that the top priority should be helping everybody who works hard get ahead. This country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.
“That’s what middle-class economics is all about, and as long as I’m your President, that’s what I’ll keep on fighting to do,” he concluded.
Davy Desmond, Readers Bureau Fellow
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