Jul 31, 2021 • 1HR 7M

Cancel Student Debt Now!

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Appears in this episode

Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader talks about what’s happening in America, what’s happening around the world, and most importantly what’s happening underneath it all.
Episode details

We discuss the student debt crisis with Anthony Fiorentino, attorney and advocate featured along with Ralph in the documentary series “Scared to Debt: America’s Student Loan Scam.” And Consumer Federation of America’s Robert Hunter joins to remind you that your auto insurance companies probably still owe you money for not driving so much during the Covid quarantine. Plus, Ralph offers up another Congress Club letter, this one aimed at Medicare for All.

Anthony Fiorentino is an attorney, who currently represents plaintiffs in the national class action lawsuit ongoing against federal loan servicer Nelnet. He was also featured in Scared to Debt, a docu-series that investigates the policies that have led to the current student loan debt crisis. 

“I’ve always agreed with the ‘public good’ theory of education. I don’t think you can have a functioning citizenry unless they’re educated. And in any advanced industrialized economy, and particularly the 27 O.E.C.D. countries, education is treated as a public good… we should be doing that. We should be investing in people having an educated citizenry. But instead we’ve created a predatory lending system that is not about creating pathways to education, it’s about enriching large for-profit corporations and banks. And unfortunately it’s also about taxing the middle class.”

Anthony Fiorentino, attorney

“I tried to enroll in an income driven repayment plan [for my own student loans]. And because it’s based on your income, you have to provide documentation of your income… each year, once a year to your loan servicer. And like I said, these are private entities that get millions of dollars from the Department of Education to service the loan. Well, what I was noticing was, for three years in a row, for some reason, my application to renew my plan was rejected for one reason or another. Sometimes I would be told that the income documentation was insufficient, even though I followed all the instructions on the application to a T. Sometimes I would be told “Well you checked this box here, but this box here, and those are inconsistent, so we can’t accept your application. Or sometimes the loan servicer would just delay processing the application until months after the plan expired, because it only runs for one year at a time… this is one of the ways that the debt starts to spiral. So we had to bring these class actions against these companies to ensure that that wouldn’t happen anymore.”

Anthony Fiorentino, attorney

“I would think… that [student loan debt] would be a good political issue for the Democrats. Because the Republicans hate to change this. They love to have these creditors sit on the back of millions of student loan debtors. Don’t you think this would be a good issue for 2022? You’re talking 45 million people stuck in this student loan craw.”

Ralph Nader

Robert Hunter is the Director of Insurance at the Consumer Federation of America. He has held many positions in the field, both public and private, including being the Commissioner of Insurance for the State of Texas being the President and Founder of the National Insurance Consumer Organization and as an underwriter for Atlantic Mutual and Centennial Insurance Companies.

“In every state, the law says rates cannot be excessive. I mean, the law and every state says exactly that. And yet, the insurance commissioners in all but one state are ignoring it. It’s bad enough that then they’re not protecting consumers generally, but here they’re not even enforcing a law.”

Robert Hunter, Consumer Federation of America

“Some companies have been paying huge dividends to stockholders instead of paying the money back to policyholders. For example, Progressive had its largest ever dividend– $2.6 billion– to stockholders. And AllState had its largest dividend– ever. And they’re acting like “Oh look at the money we’re making for you.” Instead of saying look at the money we’re stealing for you.”

Robert Hunter, Consumer Federation of America

“This should be good politics. You would think state legislators would want to take credit for sending good size checks back to their constituents in rebates. You would think that editorial writers would think this is good copy… It seems to be a no brainer type of consumer justice. I fail to understand why people aren’t taking up the cudgels here. It’s such an easy, slam dunk, clear legal requirement that our insurance commissioners– waiting for a possible job offer after they leave the state government– are ignoring.”

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Ep 386 Transcript
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