Subprime lenders and their lawyers and lobbyists are in an awkward position. They worry that the current uproar over reports of alleged abusive lending practices will lead to onerous legislation. But they also worry that advocating caution will make them look like apologists for exploitative lending.

"Predatory lending is this year's privacy issue," said Larry Platt, a law partner at Kirkpatrick & Lockhart in Washington. "It's the issue that's hard to oppose, and all the federal and state agencies want to be seen as the protectors of the consumers."

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