New Student Loan Rule Sides with For-Profit Colleges

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.

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Senate Bill Offers Debt Relief for Puerto Rico

New Senate legislation offers additional options for Puerto Rico to cut its debt. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced the US Territorial Relief Act. If Congress passes the act, US Territories that experience natural disasters could qualify for debt relief.
 
"Puerto Rico continues to struggle with the aftermath of Hurricanes Maria and Irma," noted Puerto Rico Archbishop Roberto González Nieves. "The hurricanes were made worse by debt crisis and austerity policies. Legislation such as this, can provide us more options for debt relief and greater transparency in the finances of our island."

The bill also creates an audit commission to study the causes of the debt. US Territories, like Puerto Rico, would qualify for relief if two of three criteria are met. The specific criteria refer to population decrease, receiving federal disaster aid and the total debt per person exceeds $15,000.
 
Both Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands likely meet the Senate Bill's eligibility requirements.

“Beyond debt relief, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands still need Congress to authorize more disaster aid to rebuild to withstand the coming storms," stated Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte. LeCompte serves on United Nation debt expert groups and works with Puerto Rico religious leaders on resolving the debt crisis. "Without seriously cutting Puerto Rico's debt there is little hope for reducing the high child poverty rate, let alone seeing sustainable economic growth."

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Proyecto de ley del Senado DE EE.UU. le ofrece a Puerto Rico un alivio en su deuda

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

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Treasury Takes Aim at Shell Companies

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. 

"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.

Read the House version of the Corporate Transparency Act

Read the Senate version of the Corporate Transparency Act
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Senate Passes Puerto Rico Nutritional Assistance in Farm Bill

Puerto Rico Housing Assistance Fails in Senate

The US Senate voted for Puerto Rico disaster relief in the form of food assistance with the passage of the "Farm Bill." The Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 included Senators Marco Rubio and Kirsten Gillibrand's amendment to fund Puerto Rico's Nutritional Assistance Program.

“More than 700,000 people in Puerto Rico will benefit from the amendment from Senators Rubio and Gillibrand in the Farm Bill," noted Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA. LeCompte's organization lobbied Congress on the amendment and issued an action alert to secure support for the amendment. “The hurricanes pushed more than half of the island's people into poverty. The food assistance passed in the Senate is urgently needed."

Senators Rubio and Gillibrand introduced the nutritional assistance 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.

A bill proposed by Senator Bill Nelson of Florida to extend FEMA housing assistance was blocked in the Senate ahead of Thursday's Farm Bill vote. Nelson's Disaster Housing Assistance Act, S2880, sought to establish a pilot program for long-term rental assistance for families affected by natural disasters. FEMA housing assistance will end tomorrowJune 30.

"US citizens continue to suffer across Puerto Rico. The hurricanes ravaged an island already suffering from a severe debt crisis," said LeCompte. "Congress needs to stop petty debates and get relief aid as quickly as possible to the people suffering on the island."

The House passed their version of the agriculture bill last week. A Senate and House conference committee will reconcile the differences between the two bills before it heads to President Trump's desk.

Read Jubilee USA's Puerto Rico Farm Bill Action Alert

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Call Senate for Puerto Rico Food Assistance

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.

Thanks,

Kate

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European Finance Ministers Applaud Greece Debt Deal that Provides Aid and Continues Austerity

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.

 

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Eric LeCompte Quoted in Politico on Disaster Recovery

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

 

 

 

 

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G7 Discusses Debt Relief for Islands as Hurricane Season Begins

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. Also focusing on empowering women in the economy, the group meets in Whistler, Canada, through Sunday. These meetings will help prepare outcomes for the upcoming G7 Ministerial meeting that President Trump attends later in June.

“As a new hurricane season begins, there is an urgency for the G7 to promote crisis response tools like debt relief,” noted Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte who tracked G7 meetings since 2010. “This is the first time that Finance and Development Ministers are meeting jointly at the G7 and they can promote solutions for when financial crises and humanitarian crises collide.”

Colorado State University's "2018 Tropical Meteorology Project Forecast Schedule," projects that the 2018 hurricane season could be stronger than the 2017 season. From Dominica to Puerto Rico, many islands are struggling to recover from the damage inflicted during the 2017 hurricane season. In September, Jubilee USA began collecting thousands of petitions and organized hundreds of national and local faith 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 public and private meetings. The Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church USA, United Church of Christ, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Jubilee USA met with the White House and US G7 team around the proposals.

“Many of the islands that are prone to hurricanes already struggle with high child poverty rates and high debt burdens,” stated LeCompte. “When these islands are struggling to recover and meet the needs of their people, they shouldn’t be paying debt.”

According to Jubilee USA, since the early 2000s, debt relief processes cut the debt of some of the world’s poorest countries. In recent years, debt relief initiatives supported Haiti after it was struck by an earthquake and relieved the debts of three African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak.

Read the Jubilee Caribbean Religious Leader Statement

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Before the Next Hurricane Strikes, Protect Islands with High Debt and Poverty Rates

Friend,

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."

Please join Jubilee Caribbean and Jubilee USA and take urgent action now. 


Gratefully,

Eric LeCompte
Executive Director

Twitter: @JubileeUSA
www.jubileeusa.org/support-us

 

 

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