As I was driving along yesterday on my way to a big bowl of Vietnamese pho for lunch, I drove past the headquarters of Sallie Mae in Reston, Virginia. Imagine my surprise when I saw the street name where Sallie Mae is situated: American Dream Way!!!!!!!! Can you just believe the irony of this? It represents a dichotomy between the supposed noble goal to make education available to all and the stark reality of making that opportunity financially out of reach for many.
Sallie Mae is (was?) the quasi-government agency that offers and administers student loans. Do you know the percentage of student loans that actually get paid off? The answer is 99.99%. Not a bad figure. However, that just was not good or profitable enough for Sallie Mae. No way. They securitized their outstanding loans, which not only had an almost perfect payoff rate, but also earned the company a decent rate of return. Adding undue risk and leverage to this straight-forward, reasonably profitable enterprise nearly brought down the whole show last year. Just as the desire for record-breaking growth in our private sector resulted in dangerously risk-laden investments, Sallie Mae thought they could also play that game.
President Obama, in his SOTU address the other night, made a plea to remove the middleman, i.e. private banks, from the process of student educational borrowing. In this way, we would save $80 billion over the next decade. These savings could then be plowed back into the educational system for the benefit of our citizens.
Here is the article from today’s Washington Post:
The Congressional Republicans are on another frenzied tear to offer no help to regular Americans regarding this issue of student loans. Yesterday, they uniformly made their displeasure known regarding removing private banks from the student loan process. The GOP thinks that the private banks are a necessity for “competition”.
I beg to differ with their supposed intentions, and cite the example of health care reform to point out their duplicity. If we need private banks in order to stimulate competition for student borrowing, why do we NOT need a public option in health care to stimulate effective price competition and cost savings? The logic of the GOP is nonexistent. On one hand, they want competition re: student loans to stimulate competition but, on the other hand, they do not want the public option (or any other method that would foster reasonable costs) for health care. Could their real motivation be that their support of corporate America takes precedence over everything else? Could their insistence on private lending for students and the condemnation of government participation, i.e. a public option, in health care be chalked up to anything other than supporting corporate profits on the backs of our citizens? I believe the answer to both of these questions to be a resounding “Yes”.
These same Republicans will tout their platform of less government intervention. The GOP stands firmly on their mantra that only private growth can reinflate our economy. Need I remind them that the retreat from financial regulation over the last 20 years nearly toppled our entire economy? Do they also require a summary of the abuses the private insurance industry embodies mainly because there is no competition. Both of these situations are being ignored by the GOP because they hold firm in their belief that exuberant growth is the only issue that will rectify all that ails us. Idiots. Continuous, year-after-year new highs in any growth rate is a sure sign that all is not well, and that dubious methods of producing that growth-gone-wild will poison the whole system. This did not work under Reagan and will not work now. As usual, the GOP wants the wealthy to stay wealthy and the middle class to be the victims from where this top-bracket, elitist wealth originates.
The Street sign by Sallie Mae really got me going: “American Dream Way”. Whose dream is that? America’s or just the Party of No who answers to no one except the big corporate sector? This dichotomy of the GOP’s behavior is as obvious as the nose on my face. This governing party that represents 50% of our population spouts a true concern for their constituents yet supports legislation that works against the majority of Americans. Is my theory of the GOP’s blocking direct student loans and health care reform exemplary of their total disconnect of policy making for the betterment of the people having precedence over their aim of funneling profits to corporate America? Those profits, of course, will then be redirected right back into the pockets of the top 1% of earners. Am I missing something here? Am I being too imaginative and judgmental?
So right on. “American Dream Way” is a misnomer, unless it is referring to the dreams, hopes and wishes of corporate America. It sure as hell isn’t my “American dream”.