Thursday, December 08, 2005
Car Title Loan Abuse: shouldn't we be asking Joe about this deal?
Okay, the recent press hash on car title loan abuse has inspired State 29 & Drew to take some shots at the GOP guys. I’m not apologizing for the GOP rhetoric; really, it does bring a certain Dr. Seuss character to mind when you hear this sort of comment.
“Nobody has to take out these loans,” he [Christopher Rants] said. “As long as people are being fully informed, I think you ought to let people make a judgment as to what they can and cannot do.”(link)Unfortunately, as with any issue in the legislature, there is a little more to this than just what we’re seeing.
First thing to note is the major backer of putting limits on car title loans is Senator Joe Bolkcom, a lefty Democrat from Iowa City. He’s pushed this issue for a few years, and it somehow goes nowhere.
Hmm, could it be that Sen Bolkcom, as co-chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, played the primary role in stopping property tax reform (HF 847) from moving to the Senate floor? And could it be that the GOP guys in the House are a little miffed that Bolkcom did not bring a version of their property tax reform bill out of the Senate Ways & Means Committee?
Looking at the issue of car title loan abuse, in light of the disagreement between Bolkcom and the House GOP Leadership over property tax reform, might give someone pause to consider that the issue of car title loan abuse is tied to property tax reform. Joe pushes a property tax reform bill out of the Senate Ways & Means, the GOP guys let a car title loan abuse bill get to the House floor, where it will pass.
However, the issue of property tax reform is incredibly complicated, a consequence of the sophisticated associations working the issue. The business interests are thinking about property tax limits, while county and local government groups are interested in maintaining their local ability to raise & spend property taxes. Joe happens to be a former Johnson County Supervisor and a big fan of local government spending (link, pg. 10-14). The GOP House guys, big surprise, are all about lower taxes and economic development (link).
It is nice to think that what’s reported in the press covers the entire context of a legislative issue, but that’s usually not the case. Often there is more to an issue than just the topic at hand; this is particularly true when a small issue is stuck on one side or the other. It’s just the way politics sometimes works.
The unfortunate thing is that the activist pushing for car title loan reform should have figured out that Joe might have other priorities, like blocking property tax reform. Moreover, it's always a good idea to have more than one good friend in the legislature.
Both sides should be embarassed at the juvenile nature of their actions and the impact it has on their constituents.
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