Washington DC - This week the US Department of Education proposed new student "borrower defense" rules.
"If implemented, these rules place a greater burden on students to prove their case for debt relief when for-profit colleges mislead or defraud them," stated Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte. LeCompte's organization supported 2016 federal regulations that allowed students to receive debt relief after the collapse of two for-profit schools, ITT Technical Institute and Corinthian Colleges.
Because the bar would be higher for students to prove their case for debt relief under the new rule, the Trump Administration argues federal student debt relief would be reduced by $13 billion over 10 years. The regulations now face a 30 day open federal comment period. If the Administration finalizes the rules, they could go into affect in 2019.
Una legislación nueva del Senado de EE.UU. le ofrece opciones más a Puerto Rico para recortar su deuda. Los senadores Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) presentaron el proyecto de ley intitulado “Ley para el Alivio a Territorios de EE.UU.”. Si el Congreso de EE.UU. aprobara esta ley, los territorios de los EE.UU. que hayan experimentado un desastre natural, podrían cualificar para recibir un alivio en su deuda.
“Puerto Rico continúa luchando con los resultados causados por los huracanes Irma y María” señaló Roberto O González Nieves, OFM, Arzobispo Metropolitano de San Juan de Puerto Rico. “El impacto de los huracanes fue más agudo en la isla por la la crisis de la deuda pública y las políticas de austeridad fiscal implantadas. Legislación como la presentada en este proyecto de ley, puede proveernos más opciones para obtener un alivio en nuestra deuda y a su vez proveer un incremento en la transparencia en las finanzas públicas de nuestra isla”.
El proyecto de ley también crea una comisión para auditar la deuda, de modo tal, que se puedan identificar las causas de esta última. Territorios de EE.UU., como por ejemplo Puesto Rico, podrían cualificar para el alivio en su deuda, si dos de los siguientes tres criterios se cumplen. Veamos. Primero, si el territorio ha sufrido una disminución en su población. Segundo, si se encuentra recibiendo ayuda federal para desastres naturales. Tercero, si el total de la deuda por persona excede los $15,000.
Tanto Puerto Rico como las Islas Vírgenes probablemente cumplen con los requisitos de elegibilidad del proyecto de ley del Senado de EE.UU.
“Más allá del alivio en su deuda, tanto Puerto Rico como las Islas Vírgenes, necesitan que el Congreso autorice más fondos de ayuda para desastres, para poder reconstruir una infraestructura capaz de soportar tormentas futuras” señaló Eric LeCompte, Director Ejecutivo de Jubilee USA. LeCompte también funge como experto en deuda pública para las Naciones Unidas y a su vez colabora con líderes religiosos de Puerto Rico en busca de una solución para la crisis de la deuda publica en la isla. “Sin un recorte significativo de la deuda publica de Puerto Rico, la esperanza para reducir la alta tasa de pobreza infantil en la isla es muy poca, no menos importante, tan poco se podría alcanzar un crecimiento económico sustentable”.
Lea la “Ley para el Alivio a Territorios de EE.UU 2018”
Read this release in English
The US Treasury is calling for greater scrutiny into the use of "anonymous" shell companies. Last week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urged Congress to quickly pass legislation to make the identity of shell company owners available to law enforcement.
Read the House version of the Corporate Transparency Act
"Corrupt public officials and scams that exploit vulnerable communities use shell companies to hide their money," noted Eric LeCompte the Executive Director of Jubilee USA, a religious development group. "Congress should pass legislation like the Corporate Transparency Act to protect the vulnerable and shed more light into this secretive world."
The Corporate Transparency Act would disclose the name of the owner who benefits from the shell corporation. In the House, the act was introduced by Representatives Peter King (R-NY) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) are lead sponsors of the Senate companion bill.
Mnuchin's public comments come as Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) targets money laundering through anonymous shell companies in high-end real-estate deals. FinCEN requires the true identity of a shell company owner be disclosed in real-estate transactions in Florida, New York, Texas, California and Hawaii.
The Senate is about to vote on a Puerto Rico amendment to the 2018 Farm Bill. We need you to make a quick call to your Senators now.
Please urgently call your Senators and ask them to support Senators Marco Rubio and Kirsten Gillibrand’s Farm Bill amendment to extend special disaster aid for nearly 700,000 vulnerable people across Puerto Rico.
Since hurricane Maria, overall poverty rates have grown beyond half of the island's population. Nearly 60 percent of children in Puerto Rico live in poverty.
Senators Rubio and Gillibrand introduced a disaster relief amendment to the Farm Bill that allows up to $635 million to be spent on Puerto Rico's version of SNAP or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Already this year because of your actions, we've won more than $30 Billion in recovery aid and provisions for Puerto Rico to rebuild to withstand future storms. For the last several years, we've moved forward measures for debt relief. Now as we move debt relief forward, this amendment helps us pull back some of the impacts of austerity policies.
Call your Senators now and ask them to support Senator Rubio and Gillibrand’s amendment to secure nutritional assistance for the most vulnerable people in Puerto Rico.
The Farm Bill is moving fast. Please call the Senate now.
European Finance Ministers endorse a new Greece debt agreement that provides financing in exchange for maintaining austerity policies and economic reforms.
“Parts of the Greece deal provide more breathing space for Greece in the short-term, but we are still concerned that there isn't enough debt relief to keep Greece out of trouble for the long-term," stated Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte, who monitors and works on international debt agreements. "I'm also worried that the continued austerity policies hurt too many Greeks and will negatively impact economic growth."
While the International Monetary Fund's Christine LaGarde supports the deal, she raised concerns about the deal's ability to achieve sustainability for the Greek economy.
Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA was recently quoted in Politico speaking about transparency in disaster recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article.
Zinke's political ties to Virgin Islands improved Interior's hurricane response, party boss says
By Ben Lefebvre
Disaster response experts say it would be inappropriate for Canegata's political connections to influence Interior's efforts in the Virgin Islands.
“These are processes that are supposed to be transparent and supposed to be above the board,” said Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA, an anti-poverty group that has been involved in hurricane disaster relief efforts. “So, it would not be something a political party would be part of.”
Read more here.
On the first day of the 2018 hurricane season, G7 Finance and Development Ministers are reviewing proposals for debt relief and “innovative financing” when islands are hit by natural disasters. These meetings will help prepare outcomes for the upcoming G7 Ministerial meeting that President Trump attends later in June.
Thanks to our work together since September, the G7 and world leaders are considering proposals for debt relief when islands with high poverty rates and high debt burdens are hit by hurricanes.
Colorado State University tracks tropical weather and projects that the 2018 hurricane season could be stronger than the 2017 season. From Dominica to Puerto Rico, many islands are still struggling to recover from the damage inflicted during the 2017 hurricane season. Last September you joined with Jubilee USA as we began collecting thousands of messages for hurricane debt relief. We organized hundreds of national and local Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities urging debt relief initiatives when hurricanes strike. These initiatives include providing “breathing space” so when natural disasters hit developing islands, they can temporarily stop debt payments and put the money into disaster relief. If a debt payment moratorium is not enough, then Jubilee USA advocates restructuring the debt to deliver further aid.
In recent months major religious leaders and Heads of State went on record calling for such processes including Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne and Grenada Prime Minister Keith Mitchell. Caribbean Leaders of the Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Seventh Day Adventist, Methodist, Anglican and Episcopal Churches and the Salvation Army joined Jubilee Caribbean urging that this process be in place before this year’s hurricanes hit. The proposals were discussed at the April United Nations Forum on Financing for Development during high-level Jubilee public and private meetings.
A few weeks ago we met with the White House and US G7 team around our proposals. At the White House, The Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church, United Church of Christ, The Catholic Church and Jubilee USA found that the White House supports some of our efforts. Your voice and your action is urgently neded now.
Many of the islands that are prone to hurricanes already struggle with high child poverty rates and high debt burdens. Please tell the White House, IMF and G7 that when islands are struggling to recover and meet the needs of their people, they shouldn’t be paying debt.
We are seeing progress because of your partnership and action.
Expanding debt relief and disaster protections is another extension of all we have achieved together in recent years. Because we campaigned together, we won recent debt relief initiatives to support Haiti after it was struck by an earthquake and a process that relieved the debts of the three African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak. Because of your continued action since last year, we now are in sight of achieving new processes that can protect the vulnerable in the face of crisis.
Earlier this week, the Caribbean Development Bank held its annual meetings with Caribbean leaders and finance ministers in Grenada. Grenada's Presbyterian Pastor and head of Jubilee Caribbean, Reverend Osbert James offered the opening prayer. His words are inspiring:
"At this the 48th meeting of the banks governors, I pray that the CDB (Caribbean Development Bank) will resolve to support and champion efforts to urge the IMF to use its rule-setting power to endorse a full debt moratorium once a hurricane or any other serious disaster brings destruction beyond a pre-defined level and make sure that a serious debt restructuring of all external commitments shall be possible under due consideration of our peoples' human rights. Mindful that national debt and vulnerability to natural disasters are among the major causes of poverty, I pray that the CDB will see debt restructuring as a means of providing a breathing space for our small Island states who too often have been locked in a vicious cycle of build and rebuild."
Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA was recently highlighted in The Bond Buyer speaking on emergency relief funds, the bankruptcy process and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article.
Puerto Rico Bond Holders May Have to Wait More Than Two Years
By Robert Slavin
Some observers, including Jubilee USA Network executive director Eric LeCompte and Council on Foreign Relation Senior Fellow Brad Setser, said the bankruptcy’s progress was reasonable considering the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
PROMESA “gave Puerto Rico some breathing space by allowing for a debt payment moratorium and preventing creditor litigation," LeCompte said. "PROMESA allowed Puerto Rico to default and made it disadvantageous for new predatory creditors to buy the debt. Finally, the legislation created a super bankruptcy process that is capable of restructuring all of Puerto Rico’s debt.”
LeCompte said PROMESA is the “first comprehensive debt restructuring process since the 1953 London Accord that restructured all of Germany’s debt.” He explained that by this he meant that it was the first time since the London Accord that both state-level and local government level debt was simultaneously restructured.
Read more here.
Catholic News Service and Crux featured articles on the statement issued this week by Jubilee USA and religious leaders on NAFTA and access to medicines in trade agreements.
Read excerpt below and follow link to the full Crux and Catholic News Service articles.
Religious leaders say new NAFTA shouldn’t restrict access to medicines
Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services was one of seven U.S. religious leaders asking that any new North American Free Trade Agreement “avoid enhanced and extended monopolies on life-essential medicines.”
The May 18 letter, sent to President Donald Trump, administration officials and members of Congress, added: “Our faith traditions call us to care for the sick and respond to the needs of the poor in our societies. Trade agreements can have enormous impacts on the ability of the sick and the poor to access the medicines they need for healing and even survival.”
“We agree with the provisions of the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, currently in effect in all NAFTA countries. The TRIPS agreement calls for respect of intellectual property rights, including those for medicines,” the letter said.
“Crucially, as was underscored by the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, it also recognizes each nation’s right to take necessary steps to ensure that medicines are available to all of their residents.”
“This ‘May 10th Agreement’ recognizes the flexibility in intellectual property rights provisions with regard to pharmaceuticals that developing countries sometimes need in order to serve the public health needs of their people,” the letter said. “We hope our political leaders can come together once again on these principles in support of the most vulnerable.”
“We ask that a renegotiated NAFTA reaffirm the TRIPS public health protections that enable the United States and other countries to promote the human right to health and access to medicines for all,” it added.