A diverse, bipartisan coalition gathered today to call for removal of aNow, it might be my cynicism talking, but I am a bit skeptical about all this.
provision in Gov. Scott Walker's budget that would not only allow the rent-to-own businesses to operate the in Wisconsin, but would grant them special exemptions and privileges.
State Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), a longtime opponent of the rent-to-own industry, joined with Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) and prominent clergy and consumer rights activists today in a rally at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce headquarters on Milwaukee's south side.
In a press conference, Grothman blasted Walker, saying that the governor ran for office on a platform of reducing the amount of policy issues in state budgets.
"This time around, there are a variety of economic initiatives Gov. Walker could choose to support. He could have put policies in supporting the manufacturers or the farmers or the restaurant owners or whatever in the budget. Instead in this budget, we're trying to open up the state of Wisconsin to the Rent-A-Center chain. There are a variety of chains, but the one I think they really want this badly is the Rent-A-Center chain out of Plano, Texas," Grothman said.
Rent-a-Center takes advantage of people who do not understand math concepts well, Grothman said, by charging up to seven times more for a television, piece of furniture or other item than it would cost in a normal retail store, and adding exorbitant fees.
"I assume Gov. Walker does not know how predatory and just plain evil this chain is," Grothman said. "I hope we can get Gov. Walker to change his mind. I assume that if this chain comes in here, they will be bleeding millions of dollars every year from our most vulnerable citizens…It's just horrible that of all the things you can do in the Legislature, you would say we're going to let these guys in the state of Wisconsin."
Taylor said the rent-to-own provision is especially upsetting because it is buried in the budget.
"We need to shine a light on this issue because it's hidden in the budget," Taylor said. "To me, if Gov. Walker is so proud of this provision, he should put it in a freestanding bill," where it will be subject to public hearings, Taylor added.
Grothman is not exactly known for standing up for poor people or minorities, who are the favorite prey of these usury businesses.
Lena Taylor, on the other hand, is known for her willingness to sell out her constituents on just about any issue from gun control to education privatization to representative government in Milwaukee County.
I would also point out that their press conference occurred at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. That's the same group that has joined with the Greater Milwaukee Committee in their effort to take over Milwaukee County and plunder its assets and exploit the taxpayers and workers alike.
All in all, it's not a group of people that one would expect to stand up for the little people.
Which makes me wonder why they are doing so.
Is it a fluke? Is it that they just haven't gotten enough campaign donations yet? Or is it simply a turf war and they don't want anyone muscling in on their racket? I mean, there is only so much that they can squeeze out of the taxpayers and they wouldn't want to share it.
I don't know why these individuals have had an apparent sudden change of heart, at least on this one issue. But it does remind me of the adage that a leopard cannot change its spots.