Thursday, September 22, 2011

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) Responds To An Indentured Educated Constituent

AEM sent a letter to the President on August 10, 2011. I am presently drafting another letter that will praise the president for his work on the American Jobs Act. I urged many of you to send this letter to the President and also to your Senators and Representatives. So many of you got involved and did just that - without your engagement, AEM's activities would be meaningless. I want to thank each and every one of you for taking the initiative to reach out to your leaders. As for the letters . . . Some of you were totally ignored. Others received generic form letters. But in a few rare cases, you received letters of substance, letters that indicated that your leader had taken the time to actually read the content and reply appropriately.
Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) did just that, and he deserves to be credited publicly. While I applaud him for his attention to Pell Grants and increasing aid for prospective and current students, I hope that he will turn his attention to those of us who are part of the indentured educated class and drowning in debt. We need to come up with viable solutions  for educated, hard-working borrowers now. That said, let's here what he had to say in response to his constituent on August 30, 2011: 

Dear Ms. C.:
I want to thank you for sharing with me your thoughts about student loan indebtedness. I appreciate learning of your circumstances, and I hope that your burdens ease with time. You are in my thoughts and prayers [my emphasis].
 Over the past year, I have heard the concerns of many Floridians regarding the economy and their own financial well-being. We are only beginning to emerge from the most severe economic recession since the 1930s. Sadly, many middle-class Americans bore the brunt of the storm.
 I also share your concerns about the exorbitant tuition costs that pervade our nation's colleges and universities [my emphasis]. Fortunately, over the past two decades, federal policies have created new opportunities for students to obtain financial assistance and grants. The Federal government currently offers several programs that provide direct low interest loans, need-based grants, and tax relief for students and their parents. Since the Higher Education Act was passed in 1993, the Federal government has provided needed assistance through the Federal Family Education Loan program, the William D. Ford Direct Loan program, the Pell Grant program, and the Hope Scholarship and Lifetime Learning Tax Credits. These programs aim to enhance the access students from low and middle-income families have to postsecondary education. Today, the Federal government plays the preeminent role in providing direct aid to the nation's students and their families. This aid is supplemented by direct aid from states and higher education institutions, as well as sources of federal indirect aid such as state and local appropriations, which play an important role in helping to subsidize students' studies.
 Please know that I will weigh your concerns when making any decisions on this or any related issue. I appreciate you taking the time to be involved and informed about such matters. Your opinions are important to me. 
Senator Bill Nelson
P.S. From time to time, I compile electronic news briefs highlighting key issues and hot topics of particular importance to Floridians.  If you'd like to receive these e-briefs, visit my Web site and sign up for them at
Donate $10 to help AEM continue to actively raise awareness about the student lending crisis.  

On behalf of thousands of student loan debtors, AEM thanks you, Senator Nelson, for responding to this particular constituent. Much work needs to be done to solve the student lending crisis, and we hope that you will take an active role in helping solve this problem.


SG said...

"We are only beginning to emerge from the most severe economic recession since the 1930s."

ORLY? Is it just me, or is it getting somewhat tiresome hearing politicians with cushy jobs say we're recovering? WHAT RECOVERY? I honestly think we never left the recession. In fact, I think we're in a mild depression, and it may very well get worse before it gets better.

Cryn Johannsen said...

@SG I agree. There are too many factors that indicate we are in a severe recession if not a mild depression.

Nando said...

This gentleman is not to be confused with $enator Ben Nel$on (D-NE), one of Sallie Mae's most ardent servants in Congress. I wonder if Sallie paid for that rug, on his head.

By the way, the $enator from Sallie Mae refers to himself as a "centrist Democrat." [Read: corporate whore and tool of Industry.]

I wanted to clear up any confusion, deriving from their names.

Anonymous said...

"You are in my thoughts and prayers"
... well bless his heart.
Translation: F*uck you, when you can bundle together $30,000 to donate to my next re-election campaign call me. In the meantime, let me cut and paste some response.

Cryn Johannsen said...

Sen. Ben Nelson is actually in bed with Nelnet -

Their corporate headquarters are in Nebraska.

Anonymous said...

As others have pointed out before, it's the government's fault for creating this student lending crisis by subsidizing student loans, much like how the government caused the housing bubble that has led to this recession.

Yet, for some reason, the senator proudly lists all the supposedly positive programs the government has created to "help" students rather than take responsibility for the current crisis. That's probably why he's a senator.

Cryn Johannsen said...

Oh sure. It's all about the Big Bad Guv'ment. It has nothing to do with PRIVATE ENTERPRISE. Do you realize how bad things got after Sallie Mae went private? Do you not get that the privatization of collections and loans are the reasons for why we're in this mess? Sure. Blame it all on the Guv'ment. That's the easy way to undermine institutions that we desperately need BUT need to be reformed. In a word, we need private enterprise OUT of this whole thing.

Cryn Johannsen said...

You are right about something. The government subsidizes LOANS instead of education. That infuriates me.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for responding to my @ 3:22 post, Cryn.

If the federal government didn't guarantee student loans, private enterprise would get out, and colleges wouldn't be able to raise tuition to unconsciousble levels.

Take out the guarantee, and no rationale private enterprise would lend $200,000 to an 18-year-old who's never made a dime in his/her life.

With the government to back the loan, private enterprise takes no risk and has nothing to lose. All I'm pointing out is the perverse incentives government subsidies have created. These subsidies had the good-faith intention that everyone deserves a college education, but that road led to ...

I view Sallie Mae, etc., as by-products, not the root cause, but you probably disagree.

Anonymous said...

Sen. Nelson:

"I also share your concerns about the exorbitant tuition costs that pervade our nation's colleges and universities [my emphasis]. Fortunately, over the past two decades, federal policies have created new opportunities for students to obtain financial assistance and grants."

lol. Bullshit. The federal student loan system has enabled the problem of growing education costs.

One Who Survived said...

As per your request, I've just donated ten bucks in addition to my prior donation.

As for Bill Nelson's letter, I wonder, was it actually signed by hand? It reads like it was drafted by a staff member, as 99.9999 percent of Congressmen's letters are; the giveaway is his standard opening, "I want to thank you for sharing with me your thoughts about..."

...which is the standard form of Congressmen's/Senators' letters replying to non-important (non-rich) persons. But regardless of his office's impersonality, I'm pleased by what his office wrote to you.

But as for thanking the bloody mass-murderer Emperor Obama for anything at all, Hitler did some good things too, but I say he and ALL tyrants can go to hell.

Cryn Johannsen said...

@OneWhoSurvived - even though we may disagree at times, I know we respect one another. I appreciate your recent donation. It means a lot to me. Without your donations, I would be unable to return to D.C.

This letter was drafted by a team of staffers. However, it is clear that they took the time to read the content of this woman's letter. We have all been ignored by most of these offices for over 2 years, so a response like this is a major victory.

I am not sure why the reactions are so negative. I am just as cynical as everyone else, but what am I to do as an advocate? NOT engage these people? Ignore things like this? Should we just continue to bemoan the suckiness of the world and that's it?!? I mean, really. It's a fight I have taken on, and it's a fight that is worth it. I am not alone either. There are thousands of people who are helping fight to raise awareness about the student lending crisis.

The criticism undermines all of us trying to change this ridiculous state of affairs. Frankly, it's tiresome - the snarky remarks.

Stephen Ewen, M.Ed. said...

I interned for Senator Nelson and, some years ago, had opportunity to spend considerable time one evening with him in his home. He's an authentic and great man. Keep in mind this letter was written by a staffer, or intern gifted in writing. All senate offices have large banks... of letter templates (the 2nd through 4th paragraphs in the letter), which they then personalize (the 1st paragraph in the letter). I've both contributed to the bank and personalized letters from it, like the one in your post. During each week, the staff make a list of issues people write to the Senator about (78 on jobs and the economy, 62 about the national debt, and so forth), and it is this list that the senator reviews each week, although staffers may point out special issues raised by constituents during the week. This is to say that we need more people to constantly write to their representatives about student loan indebtedness to guarantee we really get their attention.

One Who Survived said...

Cryn, you asked,

"I am just as cynical as everyone else, but what am I to do as an advocate? NOT engage these people?"

My answer, with the admission that as I no longer live in America (and will not return to America in the foreseeable future) I do not suffer the same limitations and/or consequences as you:

All that said, I would say (as a native-born American who DOES suffer in some ways in exile, even though my adopted country Australia is like all the best of America but without America's bullshit)...

...I would say, yes engage with them, but NEVER FORGET WHO OWNS THEM! At this time, year 2011, the US Congress does NOT represent the People of the United States! What they represent are those who pay for them, who pay to put them in office. And the Democrat and Republican parties are two wings OF THE SAME oligarchy!

Thus, today's USA is very similar to China, ruled by the "Communist" Party. As you probably know, Cryn, WITHIN the Chinese Communist Party, there are different factions competing against each other for personal power. This is analogous to America's "Democrat" and "Republican" wings of the oligarchy. The main difference is that China eschews the pretense of competition between the ruling party/oligarchy (the Communist Party) versus those who dare to oppose it, while America has a more SUBTLE way of keeping the pretense of "competition" between two factions of the same oligarchy.

Hoo Boy, now I need some truthful words by the American Bard, Amiri Baracka (Poet Laureate of New Jersey):

One Who Survived said...

PS to my above comment, Cryn, you of all people ought to understand, that the reason why I, a self-described "reactionary" am sympathetic with the likes of the "African-American" (meaning Negro) Poet Amira Baracka, is because my FIRST loyalty is to Christ's Church, which has no nation and acknowledges no "race".

Cryn Johannsen said...

@OneWhoSurvived - you're right. This is one of the problems. The influence of money is insane, and worse than it has ever been. But as you said, I will continue to be engaged and push for change.

I was born to fight this fight!