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President Obama discusses economy, criticizes payday lenders in Birmingham speech

President Obama spoke at Lawson State Community College on Thursday. Source: WBRC video

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - President Barack Obama discussed the nation's economy, budget and the dangers of payday loans during an address he delivered at Lawson State Community College in Birmingham on Thursday afternoon.

Air Force One landed at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport around 1:48 p.m. Thursday, a couple minutes ahead of schedule.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and Birmingham Mayor William Bell greeted the president and Congresswoman Terri Sewell, who traveled with Obama on Air Force One.

After landing, the president traveled in his motorcade to Lawson State, where he arrived around 2:30 p.m. Crowds lining the streets cheered as the president's motorcade passed by.

President Obama took to the podium around 3:30 p.m. after being introduced by a local member of the NAACP, who spoke about her experience with payday lending.

The doors to Lawson State's Arthur Shores Fine Arts Building, where the president will speak, opened at noon. By 11 a.m. hundreds of students and faculty were already in line .

Those audience members greeted the president with applause and cheers.

Obama greeted the crowd and made a joke that he didn't have the UAB men's basketball program making it out of the first round, busting his bracket.

He then moved on to speaking about the economy, our nation's budget and the widely discussed pitfalls of payday loans.

Obama said the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed new regulations today that would essentially require lenders to make sure a borrower could afford to pay the loan back.

He also attacked predatory payday lending, saying that they are ripping off working families. He said Alabama has four times as many payday lending operations as there are McDonald's.

"If you're making that profit by trapping hardworking Americans into a vicious cycle of debt, you've got to find a new business model," he said.

Obama supported

the political efforts in Alabama to fight this predatory lending.

Obama said he wants to continue to focus on "middle class economics" to keep the middle class strong. But he criticized a Republican-backed budget for chipping away at middle class families.

Obama said this plan would hand out huge tax cuts for the "top one-tenth of the top one percent" and also reduce education investments to the lowest levels since 2000.

To put it in perspective, he said the $2 million tax breaks would apply to less than 50 people in Alabama.

"I don't think our top economic priority should be helping a tiny number of Americans who are already doing extraordinarily well, and asking everybody else to foot the bill. I think our top priority should be helping everybody who works hard get ahead," he said.

He said he's worried the proposed budget could be a potential game changer for the CFPB and what they're trying to do to relieve payday loans. He said the CFPB's proposed regulations are designed to keep hard-working Americans from being trapped in a "vicious cycle of debt."

“It's one more way Wall Street reform is protecting working families and taxpayers. And it's one more reason it makes no sense that the Republican budget would make it harder for the CFPB to do its job, and allow Wall Street to go back to the kind of recklessness that led to the crisis in the first place.”

Obama said if Republicans in Congress send him a bill to unravel Wall Street reform, he plans to veto it.

Obama was scheduled to fly out from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport at 4:55 p.m. but his departure may be moved up due to weather.

The president visited Selma, AL earlier this month for events surrounding the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday .

FOX6 News is carrying live coverage of the president's visit on air, online at and on the WBRC News app.

Copyright 2015 WBRC. All rights reserved.

Category: Payday loans

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