Paying attention to the news under Trump means you are guaranteed to learn about at least one or two nightmares each week that alone should be reason to be spitting mad and marching on Washington, but within the context of Just How Shit It All Is Now, barely register. How much space do you really have in your brain for another outrage against democracy that we can apparently do nothing about? Should we give a shit about anything that isn’t a top-tier outrage when the government is keeping kids locked in trucks for 39 hours?
Well, sorry, but the bad news continues regardless of whether you have the mental capacity to get mad anymore. ProPublica published a story today detailing how the disgraceful payday loan industry’s representatives celebrated a big regulatory win at their annual conference—at a Trump property:
On the edge of the Doral’s grounds, as the payday convention began, a group of ministers held a protest “pray-in,” denouncing the lenders for having a “feast” while their borrowers “suffer and starve.”
But inside the hotel, in a wood-paneled bar under golden chandeliers, the mood was celebratory. Payday lenders, many dressed in golf shirts and khakis, enjoyed an open bar and mingled over bites of steak and coconut shrimp.
A bunch of nasty old dudes in sweated-through golf shirts chomping on overcooked steak and celebrating their ability to keep squeezing money out of America’s poor and desperate people, with interest rates as high as 700 percent. Bits of shrimp clinging to their grinning maws like the nasty tomato-loving king from Lord of the Rings—and every dollar paid for this sick event, this celebration of profiteering oppression, went to the Trump business.
It gets worse as you read more about the particular victory they had scored which provided cause for the celebration: Stopping a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule, finalized by Obama’s CFPB director after Trump took office, that would “require payday lenders and others to make sure borrowers could afford to pay back their loans while also covering basic living expenses,” according to ProPublica. Heaven forbid.
After the industry group representing payday lenders sued the CFPB, Trump’s new good little boy in charge, Mick Mulvaney, sided with them. When new CFPB head Kathleen Kraninger took charge this year, she took steps to rescind the rule, saying it would “reduce access to credit and competition.” (Some financial industry-aligned Democrats also love to talk about ensuring “access” to credit.) And the industry’s reaction was, again, disgusting:
Kraninger’s announcement sparked euphoria in the industry. One industry blog proclaimed, “It’s party time, baby!” with a GIF of President Trump bobbing his head.
Oh, and if you thought this conference couldn’t be a better representation of the grotesque face of Republicanism and its war on the poor, Karl Rove was the star speaker. Literally Karl Rove.
The payday loan industry is the among the most revolting parts of American capitalism. It preys on people who have already been squeezed out and fucked over by an economic system that exists to ensure the people at the top can keep eating coconut shrimp at the president’s golf clubs. The fact that it exists at all ought to be reason enough to bang on the doors of Congress and demand recourse, let alone the fact that it celebrates its big victories over regular people with conferences at the president’s own businesses—but that’s not how it works, is it. Too much is wrong, and everyone who’s affected by this travesty is too busy trying to keep their lives together.
But hey, don’t worry: At least we have the Democrats.