Thursday, March 27, 2014

Four Out Of Five Payday Loans Are Rolled Over Or Renewed

Research Shows the Majority of Payday Loans Are Made to Borrowers Caught in a Revolving Door of Debt

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a report on payday lending finding that four out of five payday loans are rolled over or renewed within 14 days. The study also shows that the majority of all payday loans are made to borrowers who renew their loans so many times that they end up paying more in fees than the amount of money they originally borrowed.
“We are concerned that too many borrowers slide into the debt traps that payday loans can become,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “As we work to bring needed reforms to the payday market, we want to ensure consumers have access to small-dollar loans that help them get ahead, not push them farther behind.”
Payday loans are typically described as a way to bridge a cash flow shortage between paychecks or other income. Also known as “cash advances” or “check loans,” they are usually expensive, small-dollar loans, of generally $500 or less. They can offer quick and easy accessibility, especially for consumers who may not qualify for other credit.
Today’s report is based on data from a 12-month period with more than 12 million storefront payday loans. It is a continuation of the work in last year’s CFPB report on Payday Loans and Deposit Advance Products, one of the most comprehensive studies ever undertaken on the market. That report raised questions about the loose lending standards, high costs, and risky loan structures that may contribute to the sustained use of these products.
Today’s report provides a deeper analysis of the data, focusing on repeated borrowing by consumers after they take out an initial payday loan. A primary driver of the cost of payday loans is that consumers may roll over the loans or engage in re-borrowing within a short window of time after repaying their first loan. Today’s study looks at not only the initial loans but also loans taken out within 14 days of paying off the old loans; it considers these subsequent loans to be renewals and part of the same “loan sequence.” Today’s study is the most in-depth analysis of this pattern to date.

Key Findings: Many Payday Loans Become Revolving Doors of Debt

By focusing on payday loan renewals, the study found that a large share of consumers end up in cycles of repeated borrowing and incur significant costs over time. Specifically, the study found:
  • Four out of five payday loans are rolled over or renewed: More than 80 percent of payday loans are rolled over or renewed within two weeks. The study found that when looking at 14-day windows in the states that have cooling-off periods that reduce the level of same-day renewals, the renewal rates are nearly identical to states without these limitations.
  • Three out of five payday loans are made to borrowers whose fee expenses exceed amount borrowed: Over 60 percent of loans are made to borrowers in the course of loan sequences lasting seven or more loans in a row. Roughly half of all loans are made to borrowers in the course of loan sequences lasting ten or more loans in a row.
  • One out of five new payday loans end up costing the borrower more than the amount borrowed: For 48 percent of all initial payday loans – those that are not taken out within 14 days of a prior loan – borrowers are able to repay the loan with no more than one renewal. But for 22 percent of new loans, borrowers end up renewing their loans six times or more. With a typical payday fee of 15 percent, consumers who take out an initial loan and six renewals will have paid more in fees than the original loan amount.
  • Four out of five payday borrowers either default or renew a payday loan over the course of a year: Only 15 percent of borrowers repay all of their payday debts when due without re-borrowing within 14 days; 20 percent default on a loan at some point; and 64 percent renew at least one loan one or more times. Defaulting on a payday loan may cause the consumer to incur bank fees. Renewing loans repeatedly can put consumers on a slippery slope toward a debt trap where they cannot get ahead of the money they owe.
  • Four out of five payday borrowers who renew end up borrowing the same amount or more: Specifically, more than 80 percent of borrowers who rolled over loans owed as much or more on the last loan in a loan sequence than the amount they borrowed initially. These consumers are having trouble getting ahead of the debt. The study also found that as the number of rollovers increases, so too does the percentage of borrowers who increase their borrowing.
  • One out of five payday borrowers on monthly benefits trapped in debt: The study also looked at payday borrowers who are paid on a monthly basis and found one out of five remained in debt the entire year of the CFPB study. Payday borrowers who fall into this category include elderly Americans or disability recipients receiving Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability.
Today’s report will help educate regulators and the public about how the payday lending market works and about the behavior of borrowers in the market. The CFPB has authority to oversee the payday loan market. It began its supervision of payday lenders in January 2012. In November 2013, the CFPB began accepting complaints from borrowers encountering problems with payday loans.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. For more information, visit

Report Explores Extreme Weather and PA's Carbon Pollution Concerns

Tom Joseph, Public News Service-PA
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania is lagging behind other states when it comes to cutting carbon pollution, according to a new report from the environmental advocacy group PennEnvironment.

Elowyn Corby, a global warming and clean energy associate with PennEnvironment, says Pennsylvania could be playing a bigger role in the fight against global warming by boosting its clean energy standards, as many states already have.

"Right now we require 8 percent renewable resources, and we need to increase that substantially,” she stresses. “We know that we can reach 30 percent renewables by the year 2030. We need to move toward that goal."

The report also notes that scientists say extreme weather, such as Superstorm Sandy, foreshadows what could be a new normal of weather extremes, unless more climate-related action is taken.

Late last year, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said it would not recommend the state's Climate Change Advisory Committee debate or vote on a plan that considers increasing the state's renewable energy law, the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard.

In terms of effects on Pennsylvania's economy, Corby says the PennEnvironment report shows that clean energy is growing substantially across the country.

"Nationally, for instance, there have been more solar installs over the past 18 months than in the past 30 years combined,” she points out. “Renewable energy is taking off, not only as a solution to climate issues, it's also a good investment."

Corby adds power plants in Pennsylvania account for about 47 percent of the state's total carbon pollution.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sens. Casey and Toomey plot secret deal to nominate Tea Party Judge for Western PA District Court

Keystone Progress has learned that a backroom deal by Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey may result in President Obama appointing a Tea Party lawyer to serve as judge on the Western Pennsylvania District Court[i] in Pittsburgh.

The nomination of David J. Porter is working its way to the White House as part of a deal between Pennsylvania’s two United States Senators.  Senators Casey and Toomey are expected to jointly present Porter to President Obama any day now as part of a deal that will allow Casey to nominate people for 3 other vacancies.

Insiders say Toomey and the Republican Party are willing to make any deals necessary to get Porter on the bench.  He represents the type of jurist the GOP hopes to place on the bench across the country.

Porter is not just a lawyer with a right-wing point of view.  He is a right wing activist and leader in anti-choice, anti-marriage equality, pro-gun movements in Pennsylvania. 

He is not just a member of the Republican Party. Porter is well-known in legal circles for being part of the Rick Santorum wing of the Republican Party.  In fact, he has served as Santorum’s counsel.[ii]

Porter is currently the leader of the Lawyers Chapter of the Pittsburgh Federalist Society.[iii] Porter recently invited the president of the Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO) [iv]  to lead a session of his Federalist Society chapter.[v] CEO is a right-wing legal group that is anti-immigrant, anti-affirmative action, and is even against bilingual education.[vi]

Who is David Porter?

·      Porter is a contributor to the right-wing Center for Vision and Values (CVV)[vii] at Grove City College where he also serves a trustee. CVV’s upcoming conference features Rick Santorum; anti-gay firebrand Michael Geer (gay relationships are a “tragedy” and like incest)[viii]; right-wing radio host Michael Medved and Randall Wenger (attorney for anti-gay and pro-creationism law suits).
·      Head of the Pittsburgh Federalist Society Lawyers Chapter (see above)
·      Member of the Republican National Lawyers Association
·      He is an outspoken conservative tea-partier who not only opposed Justice Sotomayor’s nomination, he helped found a coalition to oppose her.[ix]
·      Porter has written extensively on why the ACA is unconstitutional.[x]
·      He has represented the PA Republican Party on anti-environmental policy.[xi]

Keystone Progress has set upa petition page asking President Obama and Sens. Casey and Toomey to reject Porter as a potential federal judge because he lacks the temperament to be an effective jurist. Click here to take action.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Tom Corbett Seeded #1 of Most Radical Right-Wingers for 2014 March Badness Contest

Defending champ Corbett leads the field.  State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe also makes the cut, with Pennsylvania one of only 3 states that have 2 entries in the national contest

WASHINGTON, D.C. – ProgressNow has released the list and tournament seeding of the most outrageous, radical, out of touch right-wingers who over the past year have proven that, for one reason or another, they belong in this year’s Not-So-Sweet 16 as part of 2014 March Badness.  The competition is stiff this year; from one seed and defending national champion Governor Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, to radical Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, the matchups this year pair the wackiest, most out of touch politicos in the nation.


Here are Corbett’s and Metcalfe’s entries from the website:

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett

Last year’s March Badness champion, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, has come back with a strong case for back-to-back victories.

Corbett’s attorneys, in a filing to stop Montgomery County from issuing marriage licenses, compared gay marriage to allowing 12-year-olds to get married.  After being chastised by equality advocates and editorials across the state, Corbett doubled down, comparing the marriage of same-sex couples to incest.

When asked about his lawyers’ comparison of gay marriage to 12-year-olds, Corbett said, "It was an inappropriate analogy, you know," Corbett said. "I think a much better analogy would have been brother and sister, don't you?"

Unfortunately, Corbett’s words have been matched by his actions.  He has consistently opposed marriage equality, supporting court cases and legislation that keep Pennsylvania as the only state in the northeast that does not have same sex marriage or civil unions

Pennsylvania State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe

After last June’s landmark Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor, which overturned most of the Defense of Marriage Act, most of us were overjoyed by this partial victory.  Pennsylvania’s first openly gay state representative, Brian Sims, wanted to share his joy in the decision on the House floor.  As soon as he began speaking his mic was cut off by Republican Rep. Daryl Metcalfe.

Why?  Metcalfe said “His talking about that [marriage equality] on the House floor would have been an open rebellion against Almighty God and God’s word, against God’s law. And as a Christian, if I would have sat there and been silent, it would have violated my conscience because of my beliefs as a Christian.”

Metcalfe has risen to a leadership position in the GOP-controlled House, serving as the chair of the powerful State Government Committee.  This is despite (or because of) his history of attacks on LGBT, immigrant and non-Christian Pennsylvanians.  Metcalfe has even called veterans “traitors” for supporting cap and trade.

Matchups will be decided via social media voting for each round.  There will be a play-in round with eight teams to determine the last four seeds in the Not-So-Sweet 16. 
Votes will be tallied any time someone retweets or shares the quote from one of the right-wingers on any social media site (twitter, Facebook, or google+).  The bracket will be cut down to the Crazy Eight by the end of the weekend and then the Infamous Four by Monday, March 31st.

Here is the voting schedule for each round:
Voting Ends At Midnight
Play-In Round
Tues, March 25
Rd 16
Thur, March 27
Rd 8
Mon, March 31
Rd 4
Thur, April 3
Rd 2 - Championship
Mon, April 7

Race to Enroll Pennsylvania Latinos as Obamacare Deadline Looms

Tom Joseph, Public News Service-PA
HARRISBURG, Pa. - With a major deadline looming for all Pennsylvanians to have health-care coverage or face possible penalties, the race is on to enroll the uninsured, with a special focus on the Latino population. Waleska Maldonado, senior vice president of health for Philadelphia-based Congreso, a group aiming to strengthen Latino communities, said efforts to bring Latinos into the fold of the health care exchange have been paying off in the final stretch.

"During the last two weeks we have been able to enroll more than a hundred people. We have 120 people that are on our list of appointments between now and next week," she said. "One of the things that we are seeing is that we're having many people that are just walking in, really trying to meet this deadline of the 31st."

According to U.S. Census data, 63 percent of America's Hispanic population is native-born and English-dominant, and the longer people reside in the U.S., the more likely they are to have health insurance. Nationally the proportion of the population without insurance is around 16 percent, but among Latinos the rate is twice that, or almost one in three.

Historically, one of the biggest barriers Hispanics have faced in getting coverage is financial, but Mayra Alvarez, associate director of the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said most of those eligible for Obamacare can get tax credits to help reduce the cost of monthly premiums.

"We estimate that the majority of folks will pay less than $100 for coverage. A hundred dollars for the security, the peace of mind that health insurance extends is a tremendous opportunity to ensure that people have the coverage that they need and have it at a price they can afford," she said.

Waleska Maldonado said gauging whether the Affordable Care Act is working well for Latinos longer term can be done in a couple of different ways.

This can be by "looking at whether or not there's been a decrease in the number of people that are going to the emergency room for primary care because that's what was happening, but also people that are now assessing primary care and educating themselves on managing chronic disease."

The deadline to enroll in a marketplace plan for this year is one week from today, March 31. Those who do not have health coverage could face possible penalties.

Individuals may be exempted from the requirement to buy insurance if they file a form and qualify (for example, if their previous plan was terminated and no affordable alternative plan is available). If they think insurance is unaffordable based on their projected income, they may be allowed to buy a policy for catastrophic coverage only. Information about exemptions is available

Enrollment is available by calling 800-318-2596 or visiting (English) or (Spanish).

Thursday, March 13, 2014

High Court Refuses to Hear PA's 'Free-Speech Bracelets' Case

Tom Joseph, Public News Service-PA

EASTON, Pa. – Two Pennsylvania girls have won their legal fight to wear breast cancer awareness bracelets in school, after some considered them inappropriate.

The battle began in the Easton School District in 2010, when two middle school students were suspended for wearing bracelets on Breast Cancer Awareness Day that read, "I Heart Boobies."

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the district's appeal of a ruling from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found the ban violated the girls' free speech rights.

"What the 3rd Circuit said is, 'Look, if these were plainly lewd, you could ban them,'" said Mary Catherine Roper, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. "'But they're not plainly lewd and they have an important social message.'"

Roper said the girls did get attention for wearing the bracelets in school, but not the kind teachers and administrators had feared.

"People would ask them what the bracelets were about," she said. "Other people would share their stories of families being touched by breast cancer.

“The things the girls did not experience were rude comments or something like that."

Roper added that the Supreme Court decision should give school officials reason to think twice about how students express themselves, and why.

"As it turns out, teenagers sometimes also have important things to say," she said. "When they do, that's the sort of speech that should be encouraged, not discouraged."

The school had banned the bracelets the day before, when teachers complained about them.

Attorneys for the school district felt that the appeals court ruling was ambiguous, giving reason for the Supreme Court to consider the case

Monday, March 10, 2014

Keystone Progress PAC endorses Linda Small for State Senate in the 28th District Special Election

The Keystone Progress Political Action Committee (KP PAC) announced that it is endorsing Linda Small for State Senate in the 28th District Special Election.  This is only the second endorsement ever made by KP PAC.

Linda Small is a candidate who will stand up for progressive, democratic values in the State Senate.

She stands with Pennsylvania’s working families on all of the issues that count:

·         Linda Small is a strong supporter of quality public education for children;
·         She supports a raise in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour;
·         Linda Small will fight to close corporate tax loopholes;
·         She supports a woman’s right to control her reproductive choices;
·         She supports marriage equality;
·         Linda Small will work to protect our environment, our economy and our democracy.

For all of these reasons the Keystone Progress Political Action Committee proudly endorses Linda Small for State Senate.

You can help get Linda elected.  Here’s how:

Anti-Immigrant Ordinance in PA Dies in High Court

Tom Joseph, Public News Service-PA

HAZLETON, Pa. - The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the case of anti-immigrant ordinances passed by a Pennsylvania city in 2006 but deemed unconstitutional by lower courts. The measures would have barred individuals the city of Hazleton defined as "illegal aliens" from rental housing, and would have punished Hazleton residents and businesses for doing business with individuals who couldn't prove they were in the U.S. legally.

According to Vic Walczak, legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania and co-counsel in the Hazleton case, the ordinances drove a wedge.

"It truly divided that city, and after an eight-year ordeal where we've managed to block the law from ever taking effect, the case is now over: game, set and match," he declared.

He declared that the now-banned ordinances had set up what he called a "show me your papers" atmosphere in Hazleton.

"And who do you ask for papers? Do you ask somebody like me who's white-skinned and has a New Jersey accent, or are you going to ask the people who look and sound foreign, who may be a little bit darker in skin color?", the ACLU lawyer asked.

Walczak said the Hazleton decision may well have an effect far beyond the city's boundaries.

"Now that, in fact, it has been declared unconstitutional, I think it's going to scare communities who might want to go down this road off from going forward."

Walczak said that, prior to the court decision, any time anyone who got a job in Hazleton had to produce documentation that they were in the country legally, as did people applying for housing. Walczak said the decision allows Hazleton to put the issue in the rear-view mirror and move forward as a welcoming and productive city. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Keystone Progress PAC makes Rep. Erin Molchany its first ever endorsement

(HARRISBURG, PA)—The Keystone Progress Political Action Committee (KP PAC) announced that its first endorsement is Representative Erin Molchany.  Rep. Molchany is running in the newly-redistricted 36 th Legislative District.  This is the first time KP PAC has made an endorsement at any level.

The following is the endorsement announcement from KP PAC:

The Keystone Progress Political Action Committee has intentionally made the endorsement of Rep. Molchany our first. We want to make a statement about the kind of candidate we will be supporting.  Rep. Molchany is the epitome of our values and vision.

Erin Molchany is a visionary, creative, forward-looking legislator. She represents our progressive values and she is out front and outspoken on the issues we care about.

She has a proven track record of being a true progressive and has been recognized as an emerging leader on many vital issues including education, healthcare and transportation.  

Her voting record in the past year has distinguished her as a progressive representative who takes the concerns and values of her constituents seriously.     

Representative Erin Molchany gives the people of the 36th Legislative District a legislator who will fight for their values in Harrisburg.

She gives the people of Pennsylvania a voice for working families throughout the Commonwealth.

Rep. Molchany is the only candidate in the 36th district who will stand up for progressive, democratic values.

For all of these reasons the Keystone Progress Political Action Committee proudly endorses Rep. Erin Molchany.

Contributions to the KP PAC can be made here:


Keystone Progress Political Action Committee is the PAC of Keystone Progress, Pennsylvania’s largest online progressive organization, with over 250,000 subscribers. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

John Hanger, Brad Koplinski win straw polls at Progressive Summit

HARRISBURG, PA – Keystone Progress hosted 800 progressive activists this weekend at the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit.  Featured at the Summit were debates among the candidates for governor and lieutenant governor.

Following both debates, the attendees participated in straw polls. John Hanger received the most votes for governor and Brad Koplinski received the most votes for lieutenant governor.

Here are the results:


Hanger 31.5%
McCord 24.0
Wolf 22.8
McGinty 10.9
Schwartz 9.4
Litz 0.4
Wagner 0.4
None of the above 0.7
267 total votes

Lieutenant Governor

Koplinski 59.7
Stack 22.7
Critz 4.5
Smith 1.3
Neuman 0.6
Paterno 0.6