Let’s take a minute to discuss the blatant duplicity of Ohio’s Rep. Chris Widener (R – Springfield).  During the Assembly’s consideration of HB 545, which nobody except obtuse politicians and corrupt charities wanted passed, Rep. Widener met with several mom-and-pop payday lenders.   He told them, to their faces, that he liked their honest business models and would incorporate them into the legislation – the inference being that no rate cap would be instituted.

He lied.  To their faces.  A rate cap went in 48 hours later.

Being the addle-brained demagogue that he is, Rep. Widener is quoted in the June 7 Columbus Dispatch as saying ,”The fact that the industry will spend more than $1 million to collect signatures, plus $5 to $7 million on TV commercials begging Ohioans to overturn this law is foolish”.

Let’s examine who the truly foolish party is here.

On the one hand, we have an industry fighting to return a legitimate and useful product to consumers that was ripped away from them.  They are spending about 3% of the annual revenue Widener cost them to save the product and deliver promised value to their shareholders.

Then we have Widener who, in one fell swoop, brought Ohio politics to a new low.  Not only did he blatantly and knowingly lie to these average American entrepreneurs, but he did so in a thoughtless attempt at raising his political profile.   See, Rep. Widener is term-limited, so he must have been mistakenly acting out of some drug-induced high to believe that by banning payday loans, he would segue into the Senate on the backs of a cheering crowd.

Little did he realize he’s instead going to be run out of town by angry constituents with pitchforks and torches, who were robbed of a popular credit option against their will and despite 30,000 letters pleading him to kill the HB 545.

I’m thinking the Foolish Meter is in the red over on Widener’s end.

But then he pins the meter by criticizing payday lenders for their ballot measure expenditures.  Yet somehow, he mysteriously fails to mention the several million dollars in unemployment compensation alone that Ohio will now have to shell out to payday loan employees who had to be laid off.

But Rep. Widener didn’t stop there.   He called the industry’s fight for the right to do business in Ohio “egregious and selfish”.   Considering his legislation was borne out of his own reckless and vainglorious ambition for political power, I believe Rep. Widener’s pot is a significantly more saturated shade of black than the industry’s kettle.  And if he truly is confident that “Ohioans do not want working families taken advantage of anymore”, then I guess he’ll soon be sponsoring a bill to limit the massive overdraft fees that banks charge for people who bank checks.  After all, that’s the only option his legislation left for folks who need short term credit.   That, and unregulated offshore lenders and real loan sharks. 

At least Rep. Widener knows how to keep ’em rolling in the aisles.  As he states, “Thanks to high costs charged in the past to Ohioans, payday lenders have got more money than they know what to do with.”  What he should be concerned about is that payday lenders know exactly what to do with their money – fund the Kick Widener To The Curb Political Action Committee.

I’m ready to contribute.

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