The Senate takes up the Farm Bill again this week, and we've already had a win and a loss: a Durbin-Coburn amendment began the hard work of limiting crop insurance subsidies for big corporations, but a Gillibrand amendment that would have restored over $4 billion in food stamps got shot down, with 28 Democrats helping the Republicans do the shooting. And they call that fiscal sanity! But Food and Water Watch helps you email your Senators about amendments to the Farm Bill. Their list is pretty comprehensive; it includes, among others, two Barbara Boxer (D-CA) amendments that would force labeling of genetically-modified food, a Begich (D-AK) amendment that would ban genetically-engineered salmon, a Gillibrand (D-NY) amendment that would tackle antibiotic abuse in factory farm animals, a slew of factory farm-spanking amendments authored by Democrats Tester and Rockefeller as well as Republicans Grassley and Enzi, and a Shaheen (D-NH) amendment limiting crop insurance payouts to $50,000. The big agricultural concerns will try to drown us out, but they're nothing compared to us. After all, we're people.
Meanwhile, closer to home, the Pennsylvania state Senate is actually mulling legislation (SB 975) that would legalize payday loans extracting 300% annual interest. Sigh. They're calling SB 975 a "micro-loan" bill, but if it looks like dung and smells like dung you don't need to eat it because Pennsylvania politicians call it meatloaf. And back in 2002, the state legislature actually passed a tough payday lending law -- one that limited the size of loans to $500, limited fees to $75, and limited interest to 20% for the first $300 and a mere 7.5% for any money over $300. Pennsylvania law also doesn't allow borrowers to take out a second payday loan until they've paid off the first, which keeps them out of an endless cycle of debt brought on by a temporary cash crisis. So why break something that's been working well for over a decade? I'd hate to think it's because the big banksters want to get into the payday loan business, but we can't discount the possibility. Keystone Progress helps you tell your PA state legislators to reject SB 975, and keep our payday loan laws strong.