Support the troops

Yesterday, the Department of Defense issued a report that identifies a major threat to troop morale -- and it's not cramped quarters, bad food, or escalating foreign entanglements. The culprits are predatory financial institutions that operate outside of military bases.

As usual, the Center for Responsible Lending offers an excellent overview of the report (pdf); here's part of CRL's statement:

The Department of Defense took a big step toward kicking predatory lenders off their perches outside military bases yesterday when it reported that "predatory lending undermines military readiness, harms the morale of troops and their families, and adds to the cost of fielding an all volunteer fighting force."

Think about it: These predators not only gouge the very people who protect our country; they are hurting the military's ability to protect us in order to get their 400-percent interest rates on loans.

Yes, payday lenders on average charge borrowers $827 on a $339 loan, requiring them to sign a postdated check and then trapping them into rolling the loan over again and again when they can't pay it off in two weeks.

The Department of Defense cites research showing military personnel are three or four times more likely to resort to payday borrowers than civilians, and that these predatory lenders cluster around military bases to take advantage of the youth and financial hardships of military families.

Congress is now considering an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill, introduced by Senator Jim Talent (R-MO) and Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), caps annual interest rates for military borrowers at 36 percent.