Money from all directions

Robert Reich itemizes the corruption:

When he was in Congress, the current White House acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, pocketed tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from payday lenders, then proposed loosening regulations on them. Mulvaney was also acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, of all things.

Let’s have a refresher on what payday lenders are.

According to a 2015 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, 12 million Americans take out payday loans each year and spend $7 billion on loan fees. Though the interest rates commonly are disguised as fees, they effectively range from 300%-500% annual percentage rate (APR).

Compare that the 15%-30% APR on credit cards or 10%-25% rate for a personal loan from a bank or credit union and it’s hard to see why anyone would go this route.

According to Pew, the typical payday loan customers are mainstream workers, those earning at least $30,000 a year. Payday lenders target financially strapped customers who don’t qualify for credit cards or have very low credit limits, mostly due to past financial problems.

Let’s see now, what kind of people are likely to fit that description. Hmm. Oh yes, I know – poor people! People with no money can’t get credit cards and can’t accumulate savings, so any unplanned expense can require borrowing, and borrowing at extortionate rates makes them even poorer. It works that way with housing, too – people with no money are seen as risky so they’re forced to pay inflated rents to cover the risk. It’s heartwarming to know Mick Mulvaney profits from this horrible trap, isn’t it.

When he was Trump’s special adviser on regulatory reform, the Wall Street billionaire Carl Icahn sought to gut the Environmental Protection Agency rule on ethanol credits, which was harming his oil refinery investments.

This week the Guardian reported that a real estate company partly owned by Trump son-in-law and foreign policy adviser Jared Kushner has raked in $90m from foreign investors since Kushner entered the White House, through a secret vehicle run by Goldman Sachs in the Cayman Islands. Kushner’s stake is some $50m.

They love Donnie’s New Job – it’s like a Niagara Falls of cash for them.

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