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De-Fanging the Loan Sharks: According to Sen. James Talent (R-Mo.), there are more than 70 veterans, civil rights, and consumer organizations in lock step to “stop predatory lending practices targeted at our service members and their families.” Talent and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) are cosponsors of an amendment to the Fiscal 2007 defense authorization bill (now in conference) to limit the interest rate that lenders can charge military members and their spouses. Talent says that some lenders have levied annual percentage rates of more than 800 percent on service personnel; he cites the average as around 400 percent. The Military Coalition, including the Air Force Association, has testified on this issue, telling lawmakers that part of the problem stems from low military pay levels, which still trail 4.5 percent behind comparable private sector pay. “Roughly half the enlisted force reports having difficulty living with their military paychecks at least some of the time,” testified Kathleen Moakler earlier this year on behalf of the coalition.