Friday, May 21, 2010

Kanjorski And Sallie Mae- When A Handshake Means Nothing

A press release in April, 2009 by Paul Kanjorski talked about jobs coming to Sallie Mae in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski called it the best kind of economic stimulus: new jobs.

Kanjorski and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey joined Sallie Mae Chief Executive Officer Albert L. Lord to brighten an otherwise dreary Monday by announcing the work force at Sallie Mae will nearly double over the next 12 to 18 months.

The three said Sallie Mae is returning to the United States about 2,000 jobs from its overseas operations, with 600 of them coming to the facility in the Hanover Industrial Park. The hiring process is expected to begin immediately.

Kanjorski said he had a meeting with Sallie Mae managers and employees on the day before the 2008 general election. He said it was a difficult meeting and he had to bite his tongue because he couldn't reveal discussions were already under way about bringing jobs back to the United States.

"That's why I couldn't wait to get back here today to make this announcement," he said, noting that Sallie Mae will become one of the top 10 employers in the region.

(A little pun here, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away).

In this press clip from the Labor and Industry Press Office there is a Times Leader article from 11/07/2009 talking about petitions Sallie Mae supporters were circulating in trying to save 1000 Sallie Mae jobs.

The petitions were circulated to protect the 1,000 local jobs that could be lost under a proposal to have the federal government originate all federal student loans.

Grass-roots organizers such as Lisa Dougherty of Hazleton, an 11-year Sallie Mae employee, coordinated the petition drive that took her and others to Philadelphia two weeks ago. They boarded a busa and went througout stadium parking lots to get signatures. That was an extraordinary effort.

The effort pleased Al Lord, chief executive officer of Sallie Mae, who traveled from the publicly traded company's headquarters in Reston, Va., to say thank you.

(here's an ironic twist to the story) Lord thanked (at least it wasn't The Lord thanked) U.S. Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski, for sticking up for Sallie Mae. The company's political action committee has contributed thousands of dollars to Kanjorski's campaigns, including $11,000 in 2007 and 2008.

"That took courage. There's a lot of pressure to vote in a given direction because this is a favored bill of the administration."
Little did Lord know how soon that courage would turn to cowardness.

A Big Fat Slob wrote about Paul Kanjorski, healtcare reform, and Sallie Mae back in March, 2010. Kanjorski claimed he was undecided at the time over voting for healthcare reform and refused to commit that he was going to support Obama on the bill.

A source with information received directly from the White House has told us that Kanjorski has told the President that he is firmly in the Republican column on the health insurance reform initiative. [See UPDATE below] Contrary to recent reports in the Washington Post , Firedoglake, and Ben Pershing's Blog, among others, Kanjorski reportedly told the President there was little no room for movement on his vote.

Kanjorski's movement to the "No" column was NOT the result of the faux abortion issue. Instead, Kanjo's decision to oppose health insurance reform was dictated by the interests of the large private student loan lender, Sallie Mae, which has a facility in his district. Kanjorski has long-ties with the folk at Sallie Mae, something he's boasted about in the past. A 2008 piece on Kanjorski's deep-ties to Sallie Mae laid it out pretty well:

Sallie Mae has rewarded Kanjorski for his support in other ways as well. According to federal campaign finance records, the loan giant has contributed, through its PAC and from individual company officials, nearly $70,000 to the Congressman's campaign coffers over the last decade. In addition, the Sallie Mae Fund, the company's charitable arm, has made generous contributions to one of the Congressman's pet causes: donating $1 million in 2003 to the Wilkes-Barre Catholic Youth Center, which provides daycare and overnight care to children from primarily lower-income and minority families. Kanjorski has long championed the center and fought to get federal funding for it. In Sallie Mae's news release, the center's executive director "expressed deep gratitude" to the Congressman for helping to secure the loan company's donation.

Stephen Burd, The Higher Ed Watch Blog. The House added "The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act" to the reconciliation bill on health insurance reform. The reform measure allows students to borrow directly from the federal government instead of from Sallie Mae or other lenders. Currently, the federal government loans money to Sallie Mae, which in turn makes a tidy profit by re-lending our tax dollars to college kids.

Kanjorski, by supporting one of his large corporate financial backers, is threatening to turning his back on the rank and file, the middle class, the laborers, and all of the individuals suffering for lack of access to health care.

As well all know Kanjo went on to ultimately vote for the healthcare reform bill but with a handshake that Sallie Mae jobs in his district would be spared from the provisions in the bill that turned students loans over to the federal government, not that the ObamaStatesofAmerica isn't big enough already.

In this interview on WILK posted Sunday March 21, 2010 Paul Kanjorski talks about his YES vote on healthcare reform. The caption underneath the broadcast states 11th District Congressman Paul Kanjorski tells WILK in an exclusive interview that he will be voting YES on the healthcare reform bill after getting some assurance on the security of some 1100 jobs locally through Sallie Mae.

The Times Tribunes published this article by David Falcheck on March 31, 2010- Changes in federal student loan program could put local Sallie Mae center in jeopardy

The law would put an end to billions of dollars in federal subsidies to lenders originating student loans and make loan originations directly. But the government will need companies such as Sallie Mae to service the loans.

That's what U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski said he expects to happen. To convince him to vote for the combination health care and student loan reform legislation, he said he insisted on assurances from the U.S. Department of Education that Sallie Mae jobs would be preserved.

It's May 20, 2010 and here is today's headline in the Times Leader-

Sallie Mae letting 100 go in July

One hundred customer service workers at the Sallie Mae center in Hanover Township have been informed that they’ll lose their jobs July 16.

The news wasn’t unexpected. Just last month the Reston, Va.-based student lending and loan processing company announced that 2,500 total workers will be let go by the end of 2011, including all 1,200 workers at the company’s centers in Killeen, Texas, and Panama City, Fla.

Conwey Casillas, Sallie Mae’s vice president of public affairs, said, “The company’s focused on our future and our future in Pennsylvania is highly dependent on the amount of direct loans we service.”

He declined to discuss the layoffs or comment changes in student lending approved by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in March and its direct impact on the announcement made Thursday

The change is expected to save at least $60 billion. But it will also mean a drastic reshaping of Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest student lender.

In the course of one year and one month Northeastern Pennsylvania went from securing 2,000 jobs to losing 100 jobs all due to Paul Kanjorski's vote for the government takeover of the student loans.  The handshake he recieved as assurance for their jobs wasn't worth the paper it was written on.

When Arlen Specter toured the Innovation Center with Paul Kanjorski he had this to say "It is very helpful to have people with seniority and experience and clout," .

In Kanjorski's interview with Roderick Random aka Borys he had this to say
"It's taken 25 years to get to the seniority position I have and the power position I have," he said. "Nobody who replaces me will get there in one, two or three terms."

If seniority matters so much, why did Mr. Kanjorski bring home fewer dollars in the 2010 federal budget than Rep. Chris Carney, D-10? Mr. O'Brien asked.

Right now there are 2,500 people at Sallie Mae asking the same question.

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