Saturday, May 20, 2006


Missing in Action?

On Thursday, Sue Kelly held a hearing, which, according to this press release, was designed to improve financial services for military families. Said Sue:

“Each of the men and women deployed, and their families, depend on knowing that their finances will be secure when they return, and that criminals and fraudsters will not steal the funds they have earned serving our country.”

We couldn't agree more. Which is why we were puzzled why Sue failed to invite a single representative from the payday loan industry to testify at her little hearing. Not familiar with payday loans? That's because they're effectively illegal in New York state because of the high interest rates they charge. Yet as this site shows, members of the military are often these companies' prime targets.

Now what could possibly cause Sue to leave the payday loan industry off the invite list? Could it be because she receives money -- lots of it -- from an industry group that represents payday lenders? Indeed. One of Sue's biggest donors this cycle has been a group called Financial Service Centers of America, which happens to represent payday lenders. The very same payday lenders that are illegal in New York state and who prey on members of the military .

If Sue wanted to hold a real hearing on the financial problems that military families face, instead of the dog and pony show that she seems to excel at, she should have invited some of her regular donors up to the Hill and grilled them. But once again, Sue has proven that it's much easier to accept their checks then to hold them accountable. Don't the people who live in the 19th -- not to mention the members of our military who get taken advantage by Sue's generous donors -- deserve more from Congress?

Good point. Servicemembers often fall prey to these predatory lenders and fall further and further into debt. The Pentagon brass has been ignoring the problem but what is an absolute shame is when our elected representatives, who love to wrap themselves in the flag, sell out the honorable men and women who serve our nation.
And what has Sue Kelly done about the predatory practices of the insurance industry, which had been taking advantage of our servicemen, and had in fact been getting special access to our service personnel through base commanders? It took the Senate, and Senators Clinton and Collins, to add an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill in November 2005 to take on this obnoxious practice. Did Sue take any initiative on this, or even rise to support it in the House? (Guess.)

But what Sue did do was take lots and lots of money from -- you guessed it -- the insurance industry, which her committee is supposed to monitor.
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