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Tipping the Scales for Clinton?

By       Message Bill Moyers     Permalink
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Reprinted from Consortium News

Co-written by *Michael Winship

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confronts Sen. Bernie Sanders in Democratic presidential debate on Jan. 17, 2016.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confronts Sen. Bernie Sanders in Democratic presidential debate on Jan. 17, 2016.
(Image by NBC Screengrab)
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To paraphrase the words of that Scottish master Robert Burns, the best laid plans of mice, men -- and women -- go often astray, or "gang aft agley," as they say in the Highlands. No one knows this better than Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Twice now, the flight of her presidential aspirations has been forced to circle the airport as other contenders put up an unexpected fight: In 2008, Barack Obama emerged to grab the Democratic nomination away and this year, although all signs point to her finally grabbing the brass ring, unexpected and powerful progressive resistance came from the mighty wind of the Bernie Sanders campaign.

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Certainly, Hillary Clinton is angered by all of this, but the one seemingly more aggrieved -- if public comments and private actions are any indication -- is Democratic National Committee chair and Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Hillary surrogate who takes umbrage like ordinary folks pop their vitamins in the morning.

As we recently wrote, "She embodies the tactics that have eroded the ability of Democrats to once again be the party of the working class. As Democratic National Committee chair she has opened the floodgates for Big Money, brought lobbyists into the inner circle and oiled all the moving parts of the revolving door that twirls between government service and cushy jobs in the world of corporate influence."

And that ain't all. As a member of Congress, particularly egregious has been her support of the payday loan business, defying new regulations from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that would rein in an industry that soaks desperate borrowers. As President Obama said, "While payday loans might seem like easy money, folks often end up trapped in a cycle of debt."

In fact, according to an article by Bethany McLean in the May issue of The Atlantic, "After studying millions of payday loans, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that 67 percent went to borrowers with seven or more transactions a year, and the majority of borrowers paid more in fees than the amount of their initial loan."

A recent editorial in the Orlando Sentinel notes that 7 percent of Florida's population "must resort to this predatory form of small-dollar credit -- nearly the highest rate in the nation." What's more, "Based on a 14-day loan term, the typical payday loan ... had an annual percentage rate of 278 percent. Many lenders advertise rates of more than 300 percent." Let us repeat that slowly... 300 percent!

So why has Wasserman Schultz been so opposed to the CFPB's proposed rules? She has said, "Payday lending is unfortunately a necessary component of how people get access to capital, [people] that are the working poor."

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But maybe it has something more to do with the $2.5 million or so the payday loan industry has donated to Florida politicians from both parties since 2009. That's according to a new report by the liberal group Allied Progress. More than $50,000 of that cash has gone to Rep. Wasserman Schultz.

But we digress. It's the skullduggery going on within the Democratic Party establishment that's our current concern and as we wrote in March, Rep. Wasserman Schultz "has played games with the party's voter database, been accused of restricting the number of Democratic candidate debates and scheduling them at odd days and times to favor Hillary Clinton, and recently told CNN's Jake Tapper that superdelegates -- strongly establishment and pro-Clinton -- are necessary at the party's convention so deserving incumbent officials and party leaders don't have to run for delegate slots 'against grassroots activists.' Let that sink in, but hold your nose against the aroma of entitlement."

Now Wasserman Schultz has waded into the controversy over what happened or didn't happen last weekend when Sanders supporters loudly and vehemently objected to the rules at the Nevada State Democratic Convention. In truth, some behaved badly at the event and others made trollish, violent and obscene threats to Democratic state chair Roberta Lange via phone, email and social media. There's no excuse for such aggressive, creepy conduct, and Sanders was quick and direct in apologizing for the behavior of the rowdies and bullies.

But there is a double standard at play here. Why, pray tell, shouldn't the peaceful majority of Sanders people be angry at the slow-motion, largely invisible rigging of the political process by Wasserman Schultz and the Clinton machine -- all for the benefit of Secretary Clinton?

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida.
(Image by America's Democrats)
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Bill Moyers is President of the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy.


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