Thursday, June 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Payday loans overdue for reforms

Any regulation of the payday loan industry is welcome. Consumers should be shielded from loans that look short-term but come with triple-digit interest rates and trap borrowers in long-term debt. Federal banking regulators are on the verge of telling big banks to stop their worst practices, and that's good news. The industry has operated with few constraints for too long.

There are 1,300 payday lenders in Florida, and many of them operate from storefronts in less affluent communities. But there are also a handful of banks willing to risk their reputations to do what amounts to legal usury, including Wells Fargo Bank, U.S. Bank, Regions Bank, Fifth Third Bank, Guaranty Bank and the Bank of Oklahoma. Their practices have drawn the attention of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., both of which have proposed new rules to protect consumers. One essential change is that banks would have to first determine whether a borrower has the ability to repay the principal and interest charges of payday loans — rules that are similar to mortgage requirements under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. This change alone would help keep borrowers from being caught in cycles of debt.

Bank payday lenders say they are providing a needed service, but the industry profits from people who are financially unsophisticated and vulnerable. Seniors represent more than a quarter of payday borrowers, according to the Center for Responsible Lending. Just like storefront payday lenders, banks charge high interest rates of up to 300 percent. The loans operate off a bank checking account. Borrowers take "advances" from their directly deposited paychecks, disability or Social Security checks. Banks then first repay themselves along with interest and origination fees.

Problems for borrowers arise when they don't have enough money left to pay their monthly expenses and must take out another loan. And if borrowers' accounts can't cover the loan, overdraft fees start piling up. Payday loan borrowers are about twice as likely to face them, according to the center.

To stop this churning, regulators are expected to require a 30-day cooling-off period. No loan could be offered to a borrower until 30 days after all prior loans are paid off. And consumers would have to be given clear and accurate information on interest rates, something that doesn't always happen now.

Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, recently called payday and direct-deposit loans "debt traps." All of this regulatory attention is a hopeful sign that payday loans may finally be reformed.

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Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBIís handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but itís also suppression

The Supreme Courtís ruling last Monday to allow Ohioís purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they havenít voted, Ohioís purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18