AP Photo/Steve Helber Virginia Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam speaks to the media during a news conference at the Capitol in Richmond. T he Virginia Democratic gubernatorial primary race between Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello provides the biggest political test yet for the Democratic Party forces that have been mobilized by President Donald Trump’s assault on American political norms. Northam is a ten-year veteran of Virginia politics, with deep ties to the state’s political establishment. He has received endorsements from term-limited Governor Terry McAuliffe, Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and dozens of state legislators. The pediatric neurologist has spent his decade-long political career showcasing himself as a fiscal conservative and social liberal. But Trump’s victory and the surprise appearance of primary challenger Perriello has upended the Virginia Democratic Party and complicated Northam’s once smooth path to the top slot on the Democratic ticket...
AP Photo/Steve Helber Former Virginia Congressman Tom Perriello speaks to the crowd during a rally announcing his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for governor of Virginia in Charlottesville. T he first time Virginia Democrat Tom Perriello ran for office, it was 2008, and Barack Obama was on his way to winning the White House. An Obama champion, Perriello nevertheless managed to win a House seat in Virginia’s ruby-red Fifth District by balancing his progressive instincts with a conservative sensibility. But two years later, Perriello was unseated after one term in a Tea Party wave that saw half of Virginia’s House Democrats voted out of office. Now, Perriello is back on the campaign trail, having announced in January that he would jump into Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. The race had looked all but locked up by Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, who has received endorsements from most elected officials in the state, including term limited Governor Terry McAuliffe...
AP Photo/John Bazemore Democratic candidate for Georgia's 6th congressional district Jon Ossoff. T he special election in Georgia next month could be a referendum on President Trump’s popularity. Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old Democrat with a sizeable war chest, is contesting Atlanta’s suburban Sixth District, which until a few weeks ago was represented by Representative Tom Price, now secretary of health and human services. “Any other election year in the Sixth wouldn’t be worth people’s time—this one is,” says Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry, vice chair of recruitment for the Georgia Democratic Party and one of the first to speak with Ossoff about joining the race. The Sixth District is the epicenter of state Republican politics. It was once represented by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and current Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson. In 2012, Mitt Romney carried the Sixth by more than 20 points, as did John McCain in 2008. Yet, last November, Hillary Clinton lost the district by just under 2...
Republican legislators have moved to repeal a rule constraining prepaid–debit card companies before the rule can take effect, marking the latest effort in their recent campaign of widespread deregulation.
Seven GOP senators—led by David Perdue of Georgia—and four representatives—led by Tom Graves, also of Georgia—filed identical resolutions in the Senate and House of Representatives last week, invoking an obscure law called the Congressional Review Act to smother a proposed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rule before it can be enacted.
The CFPB rule, scheduled to take effect in October, would provide safeguards for those who use prepaid cards, which are similar to debit cards but are preloaded with a designated amount of money by the cardholder. The rule would require providers to disclose hidden fees and protect against loss, theft, and unauthorized charges. The rule would also force prepaid-card companies to limit overdraft fees.
NetSpend, a division of the Georgia-based Total System Services (TSYS), is the only major provider of prepaid cards that has overdraft fees and, as such, is the biggest apparent beneficiary of the GOP move. The prepaid-card provider, which has lambasted the rule as “onerous,” announced in an October earnings call that it expected to lose $80 million to $85 million each year in overdraft fees, comprising 10 percent to 12 percent of its current revenue, as a result of the CFPB rule.
“It is outrageous that Congress may block basic fraud protections on prepaid cards so that NetSpend can keep gouging struggling families with overdraft fees that have no place on prepaid cards,” Lauren Saunders, associate director of the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC), said in a statement.
In 2016, parent company TSYS donated thousands of dollars to the Senate and House campaigns of the Georgia Republicans and also contributed to the campaign of Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, another co-sponsor of the repeal resolution.
The resolution would give NetSpend a reprieve from federal scrutiny of its business practices. The company is currently in the middle of a legal battle with the Federal Trade Commission over deceptive marketing allegations.
Under the Congressional Review Act, which allows federal lawmakers to eliminate recently finalized rules with a simple majority vote in both chambers, the resolution would still require presidential approval. President Trump, who promised to “do a number” on Dodd-Frank, the Wall Street reform law, has shown a penchant for deregulation and would seem a safe bet to sign off on such a resolution.
The Republican push to gut the CFPB rule comes as more and more Americans are giving up on traditional banks and relying more on alternative payment methods like prepaid cards. In 2015, 7 percent of U.S. households, or about 15.6 million adults and 7.6 million children, didn’t have a bank account at all, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Prepaid cards are most popular among low-income people who can’t qualify for a credit card. Even consumers with good credit histories sometimes turn to prepaid cards to avoid high overdraft fees, thereby sacrificing the legal safeguards that come with conventional banking. If the GOP repeal plan is successful, they’ll get the worst of both worlds.