The 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee was in Iowa this weekend, helping Democrats raise money and meeting with Iowans who’ve falled victim to predatory lending agencies.
John Edwards says charging over three-hundred percent interest on “car title loans” is wrong, and Iowa Republicans who’re standing in the way of a new state law that would limit interest charges on those loans to 21 percent should reconsider.
“The predatory lenders, the pay-day lenders, the car title lenders — all of them prey on the most vulnerable people in America, people who don’t have access to a loan from any other sources…and don’t have any other assets, anything they can fall back on,” Edwards says.
On Sunday afternoon, Edwards met privately with a group of Iowans who’d lost their vehicles to a car-title lender. Last week, Edwards attended a conference in Chicago which encouraged the nation’s banks to make more consumer loans to low-income Americans so they won’t have to resort to taking out loans with such exorbitant interest rates. Edwards cites the example of a North Carolina organization called “Self Help” which makes loans to low-income families.
“What they’ve learned and documented over time is actually the repayment rate for low income families is at least as good (and) in some cases higher than for other families,” Edwards says. “Poor people who get a loan pay it back. That’s what it boils down to.”
This weekend also marked the three-year anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Edwards has repeatedly said the U.S. needs to reduce troop levels in Iraq to send the message to Iraqis that they must fix their own problems.
“What I’m afraid is going on is it feels like Iraq is slipping away,” Edwards says, citing the lack of a functioning Iraqi government and the on-going violence which is tipping the country toward civil war. Keeping U.S. troops in Iraq sends the wrong signal, according to Edwards.
“It says we’re that going to be there forever; we’re not going to let them govern themselves and we’re there for oil,” Edwards says.
Edwards finished second among Democrats competing in the 2004 Iowa Caucuses. Eventual party nominee John Kerry chose Edwards as his runningmate and Edwards is laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign of his own in 2008.