Friday, September 21, 2018
Editorials

Another voice: DeVos' retreat on loan oversight

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is inexplicably backing away from rules that are meant to prevent federal student loan borrowers from being fleeced by companies the government pays to collect the loans and to guide people through the repayment process.

On Tuesday, she withdrew a sound Obama administration policy that required the Education Department to take into account the past conduct of loan servicing companies before awarding them lucrative contracts — and to include consumer protections in those contracts as well.

The department is doing the loan industry's bidding at a time when student debt has crippled a generation financially and the country's largest loan servicing company, Navient, is facing several lawsuits accusing it of putting its own interest before that of the borrowers it is supposed to help.

A suit brought by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau claims that Navient saved itself money by steering borrowers into costly repayment strategies that added billions in interest to their balances. But as Stacy Cowley and Jessica Silver-Greenberg reported in the New York Times, states' lawsuits are especially damning with respect to Sallie Mae — the company that spun off Navient in 2014.

The Illinois and Washington attorneys general argue that Sallie Mae engaged in predatory lending, saddling people with private subprime loans that the company knew in advance were likely to fail because borrowers would not be able to repay them. The two attorneys general — part of an investigative coalition of 29 states — argue that borrowers deserve to have these tainted private loans forgiven.

The scenario outlined in the court documents bears a frightening resemblance to the subprime mortgage crisis of a decade ago — when mortgage companies caused millions of borrowers to lose their homes by steering them into risky, high-cost mortgages they could never hope to repay.

The Illinois and Washington lawsuits argue that Sallie Mae used subprime private loans to build relationships with exploitative schools that then helped the company make more federal loans to their students. Those loans were the jackpot for the company, the lawsuit argues, because they were guaranteed by the government, which steps in to reimburse the lender when a borrower defaults.

The defaulted private loans destroyed the financial lives of students. But they benefited the schools — which sometimes made deals with Sallie Mae to subsidize the losses — allowing them to comply with federal rules requiring that no more than 90 percent of a school's revenue can come from federal financial aid. The case shows the dangers inherent in letting companies service federal and private loans simultaneously.

Navient has denied wrongdoing in these cases. But a growing body of damning evidence shows that the loan servicing industry requires more oversight, not less. The attorneys general are doing a public service by using the courts to fight for borrowers.

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Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

In addition to a lesson on political patronage, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam needs a refresher on the particulars of state public records law.In January 2017, Putnam hired the 27-year-old son of a former Publix executive to a high-pay...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

There should be a timely investigation of the allegation of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh before senators hear from him and his accuser, let alone vote on whether they should confirm his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The proces...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

The heated debate on immigration could benefit from some more facts, which the U.S. Census has helpfully provided. And the facts show that rather than building walls, the United States would do far better to keep opening doors to legal immigrants. Th...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

Dogs are the best | Letter, Sept. 15Honor Flight restored my faith in AmericaJust as I was about to give up on our country due to divisiveness and and the divisions among its people and politicians, my pride was restored. As a member of the recen...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/19/18

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 18

From Times wires
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18
Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Florence began lashing down on the Carolinas Thursday and was expected to make landfall early Friday, washing over dunes, downing trees and power lines and putting some 10 million people in the path of a potentially catastrophic storm. Flor...
Published: 09/13/18
Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Gov. Rick Scott has headed down a dangerous path by announcing he has started the process to fill three upcoming vacancies on the Florida Supreme Court as he heads out the door. But to his credit, the governor indicated his "expectation’’ is that he ...
Published: 09/12/18
Updated: 09/14/18