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N.C. Opinions: Fayetteville

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For-sale sign was out; lenders took advantage

From an editorial published in the Fayetteville Observer on Sunday:

Anyone who doesn’t believe North Carolina government is for sale to the highest bidder should look at how the consumer-finance industry won the right to raise its already-astronomical interest rates.

Despite the near-record-low cost of money and a barely there prime rate, lending companies that specialize in loans to low-income and credit-challenged customers may soon be able to charge 30 percent interest on the first $4,000 borrowed and even more in fees and insurance charges. That’s not much less than Big Louie the Bone Snapper gets down on the street corner.

How did they get it? Easy. They bought it. According to an Associated Press report, the consumer-finance industry spent more than $1.8 million to hire at least 20 lobbyists and push a flood of donations to political leaders. House Speaker Thom Tillis got $30,000. Senate leader Phil Berger and Gov. Pat McCrory also enjoyed the group’s largesse.

The bill allowing higher rates sailed through the General Assembly on a fair and well-funded breeze, despite strong opposition from Attorney General Roy Cooper and many consumer advocates. It’s on the governor’s desk, awaiting his signature, which it’s likely to get.

This is what happens when campaign donations are defined as free speech and legislation is auctioned off.

N.C. Opinions offers various views from newspapers in North Carolina. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Observer’s editorial board.
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