President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos remind me of the two bullies in The Christmas Story: Scott Farkus and Grover Dill, who spend their days terrorizing elementary-school kids.
Since Trump was elected, his administration has aggressively signaled that it does it not give a goddamn about student-loan debtors. In fact, his people seem to be looking for ways to demean them and increase their misery. Here’s the latest:
The Trump administration recently announced that it is appointing Robert G. Cameron, a former executive of a student-loan servicing company as the Student Loan Ombudsman for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Cameron is a former senior executive of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), which operates nationally under the name of Fedloan Servicing, the outfit that royally screwed up the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
There’s good money in being a student-loan servicing company. According to Mother Jones, PHEAA gave out $2.5 million in bonuses to executives in 2007 and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on board retreats that included $150 cigars and falconry lessons.
As the Government Accountability Office reported last year, Fedloan Servicing (which GAO did not identify by name) processed more than one million people’s applications to have their employment certified as eligible for student-loan forgiveness. Fedloan approved 75 percent of those applications.
Then when the borrowers filed to have their student loans forgiven, the Department of Education denied more than 90 percent of their claims. Fedloan Servicing has been sued for giving student borrowers inaccurate information, and the Department of Education has been sued for arbitrarily and capriciously denying public-service loan forgiveness claims.
So why would the Trump administration appoint an executive from a thoroughly discredited student-loan servicing outfit to be the Student Loan Ombudsman? Obviously, they don’t care about the optics.
Trump and DeVos are blithely indifferent to the fact that there are 45 million student-loan borrowers in the United States, and most of them will vote in the 2020 election. They’re “screwing over” an important constituency while Democratic presidential nominees are promising student-loan forgiveness.
By appointing Robert Cameron as Student Loan Ombudsman, Trump hired a fox to run the chicken house. But Trump forgot one important fact– these chickens can vote.