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Payday lending

The article “Council eyes slashing payday lenders’ rates,” (Business, Friday) failed to mention that payday lending is already regulated in the District of Columbia and in 37 states.

The current D.C. regulations include: A maximum fee of 10 percent of face amount of check plus a $5-$20 fee based upon the face amount of the check (example of the fee on a $100 advance is $16.11); a maximum loan amount of $1,000 (maximum amount of customer’s check or checks); a maximum loan term of 31 days. In addition, all fee schedules must be posted in English and Spanish.

The D.C. Council’s proposal to cap interest rates on payday loans at 24 percent APR is essentially a ban on the industry. If passed, the maximum fee a lender could charge is 92 cents per $100 loaned. Payday loan stores in the District would be forced to close their doors, putting hundreds of employees out of work and denying thousands of D.C. residents access to a popular, regulated short-term credit option.

LYNDSEY MEDSKER

Community Financial

Services Association

Alexandria, Va.

Conservatives and quicksand

The Senate’s rejection of “comprehensive immigration reform” (“Immigration bill quashed,” Page 1, June 29) was a welcome development hailed nearly across the political spectrum. However, some conservatives advocated their position unwisely in fanning the flames of populism and public passion. Even theeditorial “The people killed amnesty” (June 29) comes dangerously close to this approach.

While conservative radio talk show hosts provided a vital service conducting virtual “hearings” that Congress itself should have held appealing to public opinion in and of itself is a weak argument (in fact, a logical fallacy) and inflammatory to boot. Certainly, the public ultimately blanched at both the bill and the process, but the bill failed on the merits as its many egregious provisions became clear.

The problem with Sen. Trent Lott’s criticism of talk radio is not that he was ignoring the “will of the people” but that he demonstrated contempt of the conservative base crucial to his party’s electoral strength. And, contrary to some voluble commentators, there were “elites” (and certainly closed strategy sessions, i.e. “back-room deals”) on both sides of the issue.

Constantly referring to “the American people” and obsessing over whose proposals draw higher numbers is not an endeavor conservatives should be engaged in. The false god of populism can be unleashed in any number of directions in favor of a “living wage,” universal health care, smaller classrooms, the Fairness Doctrine and many other boutique liberal causes that might make for a compelling slogan.

Screaming “power to the people” (as one prominent conservative is wont to do) is closer to the radical demagoguery of Rousseau or Howard Dean than the traditions of Locke and Burke and of America’s Founders.

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