Elizabeth Warren says the government should fire student loan servicer Navient, which should fire its CEO

Elizabeth Warren
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Navient CEO John Remondi should be fired at a hearing on Tuesday.
  • Navient, one of the largest student loan servicers, has been accused of misleading borrowers.
  • Remondi said the allegations are untrue and “not necessarily based on facts.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Navient CEO John Remondi was at Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts’ first hearing on student debt relief. Warren told Remondi that he should be fired for misleading student loan borrowers, but that wasn’t all.

“The federal government should absolutely fire Navient, and because this happened under your leadership, Navient should fire you,” Warren told Remondi during the hearing.

Warren, as the chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Economic Policy, called 11 witnesses to testify at the hearing to discuss the impact of student debt on borrowers, racial justice, and the economy.

Warren said in her letter to Remondi inviting him to testify at the hearing that while Navient currently services federal loans to 5.6 million borrowers and holds over $58 billion annually in federally guaranteed Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) loans, it also has “been a contributor to the problem, with a decade-long history of allegations of abusive and misleading practices aimed at student loan borrowers.”

She added that between 2009 and 2019, Navient has been accused or fined for “actions that ripped off borrowers,” including the improper marketing of loans and failing to notify borrowers of their rights.

And an ongoing Consumer Financial Protection Bureau investigation found evidence that Navient “systematically steered thousands of borrowers who were having difficulty paying their loans into plans that were worse for the borrowers – but more profitable for Navient.”

In February, three student loan borrowers filed a legal action against Navient, arguing that Navient owed them over $45,000 in overpayments that the company had wrongfully collected after their student loans had been discharged. This followed an Education Department ruling that Navient must repay the government $22 million in overcharged student loan subsidies.

In response to Warren’s questioning on investigations into Navient, Remondi said his job is “obviously to comply with the rules and laws, and we work hard to make sure all borrowers successfully manage their loans.”

“These allegations are not true,” Remondi said. “They’re accusations and not necessarily based on facts,” he added.

Also testifying at the hearing were Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Maura Healey, the attorney general of Massachusetts, and James Steeley, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Biden could wipe out 84% of the federal student-debt pile by canceling $50,000 per person

student loans graduate
  • DOE data shows canceling $50,000 in student debt per person would erase debt for 84% of federal borrowers.
  • It shows that canceling $10,000 per person would erase debt for 35% of them, Yahoo Finance reports.
  • The DOE and DOJ are reviewing Biden’s authority to cancel $50,000 in student debt.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Democratic lawmakers are continuing to push for President Joe Biden to cancel $50,000 in student debt per person, and new data from the Department of Education may have helped them make their case to the president.

A DOE analysis obtained by Yahoo Finance on Monday found that $50,000 in student-loan forgiveness per person would erase the entire debt for 36 million – or 84% – of the roughly 43 million borrowers in the US with federal loans, while $10,000 in forgiveness would erase the entire debt for 15 million – or 35% – of those borrowers.

The data also showed that 9.4 million of the 36 million borrowers who would benefit from a $50,000 loan cancelation are at risk of default, meaning they could fail to repay the loans. Also, 4.4 million borrowers, each holding an average of $48,000 in student debt, have had loans for more than two decades since graduation. Another 10.7 million borrowers have held their loans for over a decade.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have led efforts in calling on Biden to cancel $50,000 in student debt per person using executive powers, but the president has argued he does not have the authority to cancel $50,000, and he said he would welcome legislation to cancel $10,000 per person.

In response to Biden’s comments, Warren said in a press call last month: “We have a lot on our plate, including moving to infrastructure and all kinds of other things. I have legislation to do it, but to me, that’s just not a reason to hold off. The president can do this, and I very much hope that he will.”

Biden has since asked the Justice Department and the Education Department to review his authority to use executive action to cancel student debt, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in early April that the $50,000 cancelation figure hasn’t been ruled out.

The DOE data comes ahead of Warren’s Senate Banking hearing on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the burden of student debt.

“I graduated from a state school that cost $50 a semester,” Warren said on Twitter on Monday. “That opportunity is simply not out there today. Two out of every three people who go to a state school today have to borrow money to graduate. That is not how we build a future. #CancelStudentDebt.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

19 states have higher student-loan debt than annual budgets, report finds

student loan debt
  • Student Loan Justice found 19 states have more student debt owed than the annual state budget.
  • Georgia, Florida, and Missouri top the list, with debt of at least 140% of the budget in each state.
  • Student Loan Justice Founder Alan Collinge said Biden must use his executive powers to cancel student debt.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The student-debt problem numbers are massive: 45 million people owe $1.7 trillion. But another big number is 19, as that many states have more outstanding student debt than their annual budgets.

Student Loan Justice – an organization advocating for student-debt cancellation – released a report in March on these 19 states, with Georgia, Florida, and Missouri topping the list at 169%, 148%, and 141% of debt owed relative to their budgets, respectively, and South Carolina and New Hampshire close behind at 135% and 131%.

To put that in perspective, Georgia’s state budget is slightly more than $48 billion, but Georgians’ total student debt comes close to $82 billion.

Alan Collinge, founder of Student Loan Justice, told Insider that the reason those 19 states made the list could be a result of high borrowing alongside state budgets that are smaller than others.

He added that although President Joe Biden’s Department of Education has already taken steps to cancel student debt for borrowers defrauded by for-profit schools and borrowers with disabilities, that isn’t nearly enough to address the scope of the problem.

“I see this as massively unimpressive, and it really skirted around the real issue, which is the widespread catastrophic effects the student lending program is having on the citizens,” Collinge said.

The key question right now is whether Biden will cancel student debt through executive order or wait for Congress to draft legislation, and similar to progressive lawmakers’ arguments, Collinge said Biden does have the authority under the Higher Education Act to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt, which would not only help borrowers, but the economy, as well.

“There is no easier or cheaper way than to simply cancel it by executive order,” Collinge said. “You don’t need to raise one dime in tax, and you don’t add anything to the national debt, so I think to most common-sense thinkers, this is the low-hanging fruit on the economic stimulus tree.”

Democratic lawmakers like Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have long been calling for Biden to use his executive powers to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt per person.

In a press call last month, Warren said executive action would be much quicker than going the legislative route.

“We have a lot on our plate, including moving to infrastructure and all kinds of other things,” she said. “I have legislation to do it, but to me, that’s just not a reason to hold off. The president can do this, and I very much hope that he will.”

Schumer added in the same call that if Biden believes he can cancel $10,000 in student debt per person, which he campaigned on, there’s no reason he can’t cancel up to $50,000.

While Biden has not yet committed to canceling any form of student debt, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in February that the Justice Department will review Biden’s legal authority to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt, and White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told Politico last week that Biden asked the Education Department to prepare a memo on his legal authority to cancel debt.

At a Monday press briefing, Psaki was asked to clarify these recent statements and said Biden would “happily sign” a bill to cancel $10,000 per person in student debt, and he has not ruled out the option of cancelling up to $50,000 in debt.

“I think that would naturally be the first step before it’s a larger amount beyond there,” she said. Psaki did not clarify whether Biden is in favor of using an executive order to cancel $50,000 per person.

Read the original article on Business Insider

82 unions and liberal groups urge Biden to go bigger on tax hikes and hold the wealthy accountable

joe biden
President Joe Biden.

  • 82 liberal groups urged Biden to go bigger on tax hikes and hold the wealthy accountable.
  • They cited Biden’s campaign proposals of reversing Trump’s tax cuts and investing in IRS enforcement.
  • Despite GOP opposition in Congress, the majority of Republican voters support tax increases.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden is unveiling the first part of his multitrillion-dollar infrastructure proposal today, which could include up to $3.5 trillion in tax hikes. Some unions and progressive organizations are saying he should go even bigger.

On Tuesday, 81 national organizations, led by Americans for Tax Fairness, sent a letter to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, commending the administration’s efforts to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans and encouraging the president to go further. The letter said Biden’s tax plans were the “boldest of any major party presidential nominee in modern American history.”

The tax proposals have “received widespread media coverage and, perhaps more significant, your boldly progressive tax plan was heavily attacked by your political opponents, who spent untold millions of dollars and claimed falsely that the middle-class would pay more,” the letter said. “Yet, you won the most votes ever of any US presidential candidate, with a central promise of your campaign to make the rich and corporations pay their fair share of taxes. You have a clear mandate to pursue your agenda.”

The letter, which was signed by AFL-CIO and MoveOn, said that even among Republicans, raising taxes is popular. For example, a New York Times survey from November found that two-thirds of respondents, including 45% of Republican voters, supported tax increases on people making over $400,000, and an Americans for Tax Fairness survey from October found that 71% of Americans supported raising the income tax rate, including 51% of Republicans.

The best way to hold the wealthy accountable, according to the letter, is to reverse the “worst aspects” of former President Donald Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), including Biden’s proposals to:

  • Lift the corporate tax rate to 28% from the current 21%;
  • Restore the estate tax to its 2009 levels, meaning that still only the richest 0.59% of estates would get taxed;
  • And return the top marginal tax rate on the highest incomes to 39.6%, from the current 37%.

Aside from the TCJA proposed changes, Biden also proposed additional tax reforms during his campaign, like investing in Internal Revenue Service enforcement of high-income taxpayers and imposing a “financial-risk fee” on large Wall Street banks.

The letter said that even along with Biden’s campaign proposals, he could implement many other reforms, including a 10-percentage-point surtax on all incomes about $2 million, a financial transaction tax on bond and stock trades, and a wealth tax on ultra-millionaires.

Biden’s tax hikes have already faced opposition in Congress. While moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said an infrastructure proposal could be as large as $4 trillion using tax hikes as funding, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned that won’t win his party’s support.

“I don’t think there’s going to be any enthusiasm on our side for a tax increase,” McConnell told reporters last week. Republicans even recently introduced a bill to repeal the estate tax, which would only affect 0.6% of farm estates.

But progressive lawmakers are continuing to push for measures that hold the ultra-rich accountable. Although Politico reported on Tuesday that Biden will not use a wealth tax to fund infrastructure, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has led the effort to propose a 2% tax on households with net worths over $50 million.

“A wealth tax is critical for raising revenue, and that revenue is critical for raising opportunity,” Warren said on Twitter on March 1. “We build a future for all of our kids by investing in opportunity. This is one way we can make this government work for everyone – not just the rich and powerful.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Leaked documents reveal how Amazon built a Twitter army to defend itself in a secret project codenamed ‘Veritas’

Amazon Jeff Bezos
Amazon’s Twitter army has defended it against criticism over the company’s labor practices.

Amazon is facing a fresh round of scrutiny over the army of warehouse workers it enlisted to defend the company and CEO Jeff Bezos on Twitter against criticism of the company’s grueling working conditions.

On Tuesday, The Intercept published leaked documents detailing the program, which Amazon launched in 2018 under the codename “Veritas,” revealing how Amazon recruited and trained employees to “set the record straight – leaving no lie unchallenged and showing that people who actually know what it’s like to work in our FCs love their jobs.”

Amazon required the “ambassadors” to “have a strong performance background and clean HR record, be authentic, have a great sense of humor, and be excited about speaking their mind and rebutting our critics in a polite, blunt way,” according to the internal documents obtained by The Intercept.

In a pilot test for Veritas, Amazon employees practiced pushing back against criticism that Bezos should be taxed higher, a post by Sen. Bernie Sanders interviewing a worker who said they experienced suicidal thoughts as a result of Amazon’s working conditions, and even reporting by Insider about workers urinating in bottles because they feared punishment for being “off task.”

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

Amazon’s Twitter army came back under the spotlight this week amid a landmark effort by warehouse employees in its Bessemer, Alabama, facility to unionize – the largest such effort in the company’s history.

This week, dozens of Twitter accounts, portraying themselves as Amazon warehouse employees, began responding to new reports that warehouse and delivery staff still have to pee in bottlesor, in some cases, defecate in bags.

But Twitter shut down some of the accounts after Gizmodo reported that at least one was likely not a real person. (Amazon told The New York Times’ Karen Weise that the account was fake and that it had reported the account to Twitter).

Amazon’s top executives and public relations teams have also become increasingly confrontational on Twitter recently, sparring publicly with lawmakers including Sens. Sanders and Elizabeth Warren as well as Rep. Mark Pocan.

The tweets, which The Intercept reported were so antagonistic that Amazon’s security team even though the company might have been hacked, were sparked because “Jeff Bezos was pissed,” according to Recode.

In one instance, Amazon’s official PR account replied to Rep. Pocan, saying “You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us.”

Amazon, which has been openly and aggressively anti-union, has deployed a range of union-busting tactics, from pushing company talking points during mandatory midnight “education” meetings to changing the timing of traffic lights near its facilities. The Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, under which Amazon employees are seeking to organize, said the move was a ploy to stop its members from talking to workers stopped at red lights.

The company also reactivated its Twitter ambassadors to respond to a recent wave of criticism about the “pee bottles” and other complaints workers have raised about working conditions.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Democratic Senators tout changes to student loan relief while pushing Biden to forgive $50,000 in debt

warren schumer
Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer looks on during a news conference at the US Capitol on July 22, 2020 in Washington, DC.

  • Democratic Senators touted new student loan relief to push Biden to cancel $50,000 worth of debt.
  • Sens. Warren and Menendez added an amendment in the stimulus to ease loan forgiveness.
  • The amendment, now law, ensures student debt that’s forgiven isn’t taxable.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

After additional student loan relief measures were announced on Monday, Democratic senators touted the change and further pushed for President Joe Biden to cancel $50,000 of student loan debt.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona canceled student debt for 41,000 borrowers with disabilities and removed the requirement to submit income documentation for over 230,000 borrowers.

“So we have very good news for so many people who have student debt, the load of student debt on their shoulders…We’ve made another good step forward on our progress,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a press conference on Monday.

Schumer, speaking alongside Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bob Menendez, explained that the two senators authored an amendment to Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill that made it so borrowers who had their loans forgiven wouldn’t have to pay taxes on them.

“Once student debt is forgiven, no matter how much, no taxes,” Schumer explained.

Menendez said it’s a “big deal” because as they push for Biden to forgive student loans, those who have their debt forgiven would not have to worry about getting a tax bill from the Internal Revenue Service afterward.

The tax rate before the bill was introduced was $2,200 for every $10,000.

Warren hailed the move as progress but called on Biden to cancel the $50,000 debt for millions of borrowers.

“This is about moving forward, this is our moment of momentum. We have gotten one more piece in place and now we’re just ready for President Biden to sign the piece of paper to say ‘cancel $50,000 worth of student loan debt,'” Warren said, adding that the cancellation would help reduce racial wealth gaps in the country.

Biden has previously rejected calls to wipe out $50,000 but said he supports forgiving $10,000.

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at salarshani@insider.com

Read the original article on Business Insider

Amazon is sending employees into the trenches on Twitter as it battles its first union vote and reports about workers peeing in bottles

amazon warehouse
  • Amazon’s paid army of employee Twitter users is at it again, this time criticizing unionization.
  • The employee accounts follow a standard format, and popped up previously amid negative press coverage.
  • A major union drive and reports of delivery drivers peeing in bottles are the primary target.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

As new reports surface of Amazon warehouse and delivery staff still having to pee in bottlesor, in some cases, defecate in bags – the company’s employee-powered Twitter army has resurfaced.

“So glad to be on Twitter! Feel free to ask my anything about my experiences as a member of the Amazon family, I’m an open book!” an account tied to an employee named Darla tweeted last week. The account, like several others reviewed by Insider, was started in March 2021.

Back in 2018, Amazon admitted to paying a small army of employees to tweet positive things about the company.

The move was in response to the first revelations that some Amazon warehouse and delivery staff were peeing in bottles to save time due to the demands of their job. The employees paid by Amazon were easy to identify, as they all shared the same “Amazon FC” naming convention on their profiles (FC for “fulfillment center,” the name of Amazon’s shipping warehouses).

After Darla’s cheerful intro written in late March, the second tweet on the account reflects the grim reality of being an Amazon FC ambassador. “One thing that’s become obvious to me in my short time on Twitter is how willing people are to shout down and be cruel to a fellow member of the working class who disagrees with them, even when they think that person is ‘brainwashed.’ The cruelty I’ve had directed at me!!!” she tweeted.

Darla’s only other tweets reflect her anti-union position – a tweet that was published the same day that employees of an Amazon fulfillment center were scheduled to vote on the company’s first major union.

“What bothers me most about unions is there’s no ability to opt out of dues!” she said on Monday. “As a single mother with two boys I’m barely scraping by as it is, and now unions want to come to Amazon and make pay them a piece of my salary. No thanks!”

Several other Amazon FC ambassadors kept their main tweets to a minimum, choosing instead to reply to ongoing Twitter threads about working at the company. The majority of those responses are specifically regarding bathroom breaks, per the reports of employees peeing in bottles.

Amazon driver thumb pee bottle
An Amazon driver shared this photo with Insider of a bottle of pee inside a delivery van.

“My [fulfillment center] lets me to take (2) 20min breaks and (1) 30min lunch. On overtime days, we get three 20min breaks, which is also pretty nice as well,” one such response from an employee identified at Gary reads. “Before the pandemic, our breaks used to be only 15min. Being an essential worker is dignifying for me.”

Another such response to a thread, from an employee named Yola, also addresses the repeated reports of employees peeing in bottles to save work time.

“Although the facility is big, there are numerous bathrooms to use,” she wrote on March 28. “My building has 12. Each bathroom can have 3-6 toilets. That’ plenty. Plus with 20-30 [minute] breaks that’s more than enough time.”

Like Gary and Darla, Yola’s account was also started in March 2021 and didn’t become active until late in the month – just as Amazon began publicly pushing back on unionization at its Bessemer, Alabama fulfillment center and reports of workers peeing in bottles resurfaced once again.

A Twitter account run by the company, Amazon News, recently got into public arguments with several politicians. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, as well as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Mark Pocan, have all gotten into public spats with the account.

The tone of the account became combative enough that an Amazon engineer reportedly flagged the tweets as potentially suspicious behavior.

And Amazon consumer chief Dave Clark also got involved in those public spats, even going after Sen. Sanders’ record directly. “I often say we are the Bernie Sanders of employers,” he said, “but that’s not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace for our constituents: a $15 minimum wage, health care from day one, career progression, and a safe and inclusive work environment.”

According to a report from Vox, Amazon cofounder and CEO Jeff Bezos specifically directed executives to push back harder on critics of the company. Amazon representatives did not respond to a request for comment as of publishing.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

Read the original article on Business Insider

AOC leapt into the ongoing Twitter battle between lawmakers and Amazon over workers’ rights and bathroom breaks, by sharing internal company memo

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez in Washington on March 10 Rotunda
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez waves to photographers as she walks through Statuary Hall.

  • Rep. Ocasio-Cortez on Friday entered a Twitter feud between Amazon and lawmakers.
  • An internal Amazon memo asked staff to stop using Amazon bags as toilets, The Intercept reported.
  • Sharing it on Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez asked Amazon, “This you?”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Friday leapt into an ongoing Twitter feud between lawmakers and Amazon, calling into question whether the company’s policies have forced workers to skip bathroom breaks.

An Amazon account had posted on Twitter its response to claims that workers had to urinate in water bottles. It said: “You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us.”

Ocasio-Cortez responded by sharing an internal Amazon Logistics memo asking staffers to stop using Amazon bags as bathrooms. The May 2020 memo, which was first reported by The Intercept, asked employees to not “return bags to station with poop inside.”

“This you?” Ocasio-Cortez said.

Insider has reached out to Amazon for comment.

Ocasio-Cortez joined a growing cluster of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle calling for Amazon to update policies. Senator Elizabeth Warren clashed with Amazon on Thursday on Twitter over tax laws.

“You make the tax laws @SenWarren; we just follow them,” Amazon said on Friday.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Senator Bernie Sanders has called for support a unionization drive, and joined warehouse employees on-site in Bessemer, Alabama, on Friday.

“There’s a big difference between talk and action,” Amazon said on Friday. “@SenSanders has been a powerful politician in Vermont for 30 years and their min wage is still $11.75. Amazon’s is $15, plus great health care from day one. Sanders would rather talk in Alabama than act in Vermont.”

Senator Marco Rubio earlier this month also said he supported the union drive. “When the conflict is between working Americans and a company whose leadership has decided to wage culture war against working-class values, the choice is easy – I support the workers,” he said on Twitter.

The company has long said its workers were treated fairly. Its Amazon News account said: “The truth is that we have over a million incredible employees around the world who are proud of what they do, and have great wages and health care from day one.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Amazon takes a page out of Trump’s playbook, accusing critics of spreading ‘alternative facts’ and picking fights with politicians on Twitter

Donald Trump Jeff Bezos
Amazon is taking a page out of Trump’s PR playbook.

Amazon is taking a page out of President Donald Trump’s playbook with its recent public-relations strategy, as the company attempts to stomp out an attempt by its workers to unionize.

“Stuart Appelbaum, Chief Disinformation Officer of RWDSU, in an attempt to save his long declining union, is taking alternative facts to a whole new level,” Amazon representative Max Fleber said in a statement to CNN’s Sara Ashley O’Brien on Friday.

Amazon confirmed the veracity of the statement to Insider, but said it “should have been attributed to Drew Herdener, Amazon’s Vice President for Worldwide Communications. Please feel free to use his statement in your article attributed to him.”

Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama are in the process of voting to join the RWDSU, or Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union. Amazon has been aggressively anti-union, while highlighting worker benefits such as its minimum wage of $15 per hour.

“Alternative facts” is a phrase made famous by Trump advisor Kellyanne Conaway in 2017, when she told “Meet the Press” that “Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts.” Trump, meanwhile, is known for accusing critics of spreading “fake news.”

Amazon has been following Trump’s press strategy in other ways, by criticizing a number of progressive politicians on Twitter.

The company has been sparring with Sen. Elizabeth Warren for multiple days.

“One of the most powerful politicians in the United States just said she’s going to break up an American company so that they can’t criticize her anymore,” Amazon tweeted on Friday.

Warren previously shot back at Amazon over questions of tax policy, tweeting in part that she would fight “to break up Big Tech so you’re not powerful enough to heckle senators with snotty tweets.”

Amazon also picked a fight with Sen. Bernie Sanders, which culminated with Dave Clark, who serves as CEO of worldwide consumer at Amazon, tweeting that Sanders should “save his finger wagging lecture until after he actually delivers in his own backyard.”

Earlier in the week, Clark said in a statement to Insider: “I often say we are the Bernie Sanders of employers, but that’s not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace for our constituents: a $15 minimum wage, health care from day one, career progression, and a safe and inclusive work environment.”

In a third Twitter spat, Amazon faced off against Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan. Pocan had tweeted: “Paying workers $15/hr doesn’t make you a ‘progressive workplace’ when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles.”

“You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us,” Amazon replied.

Eight Amazon drivers told Insider this week that they had peed in bottles while delivering packages, due to the company’s strict time limits. Some drivers said they had additionally pooped in bags, while one said she struggled to find time or space to change her menstrual pads while working.

Amazon did not respond to multiple request for comment on workers urinating in bottles, which drivers described as a common practice. The company declined to comment on its criticism of politicians on Twitter or its use of the phrase “alternative facts” in a statement, beyond correcting the representative’s name.

Celine McNicholas, the director of government affairs at the Economic Policy Institute, told Insider that Amazon likely denied the “pee bottle thing” in an effort to be seen as a progressive employer amid the Alabama union drive.

“I think it is probably the only play that they have – to say this is not the reality,” McNicholas said. “Because the reality is shameful and disgusting.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Canceling student debt would mostly benefit middle- and high-income families, JPMorgan finds

student loans
  • JPMorgan found student debt cancellation would mostly benefit middle- and high-income families.
  • However, income cutoffs would significantly reduce the amount of debt forgiven.
  • Any long-term solution for student debt should factor in low-income families’ tuition costs and enrollment.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

With student debt in the US totaling approximately $1.7 trillion, there is no question that forgiving that debt would be a welcome relief for many Americans. But whether $10,000 or $50,000 in student debt is cancelled per person, experts found middle- and high-income families would reap most of the benefits.

A new report from JPMorgan Chase examined four different cancellation scenarios: universal cancellation of up to $10,000, cancellation of up to $50,000 for people earning less than $125,000, cancellation of up to $25,000 for people earning less than $75,000 and phasing out at $100,000, and cancellation of up to $50,000 with the same phaseout.

The report found that income cutoffs would significantly reduce the total amount of debt forgiven and make a cancellation effort less regressive.

“This relative regressivity is driven by the fact that higher-income households carry larger debts, often from professional or graduate degrees,” the report said. “Conversely, more aggressive income targeting does not necessarily result in a greater share of forgiveness going to borrowers in a debt trap or facing long repayment horizons.”

Here are the main findings of the report:

  • A $10,000 cancellation would forgive 27% of the total outstanding debt, a $50,000 cancellation with the income limit would forgive 50% of the debt, a $25,000 cancellation with a phase out would forgive 28% of the debt, and a $50,000 cancellation with a phase out would forgive 39% of the debt;
  • A disproportionate amount of debt forgiveness would go to middle- and higher income families since they tend to hold more student debt;
  • A greater share of forgiveness goes to borrowers in a debt trap or under long-term repayment plans when the cancellation ceiling is higher;
  • And the distribution of cancellation benefits by race is fairly unchanged under the scenarios, meaning the scenarios may not be effective at closing the racial wealth gap.

The report also noted that if people believe more debt will be cancelled in the future, they might change their behaviors by taking out more debt or repaying it slower than anticipated. An income cutoff for debt forgiveness could also reduce people’s incentives to work, whereas a one-time cancellation could avoid those problems.

Progressive lawmakers have been unrelenting in calling for President Joe Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt. While Biden has said he would consider cancelling $10,000 in debt, lawmakers like Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have repeatedly argued that if the president can legally cancel $10,000 in debt, there’s no reason he cannot cancel $50,000.

“If it’s OK legally to do a small amount, it’s OK legally to do a larger amount,” Schumer said during a press call on Monday.

During a CNN town hall on February 16, Biden said he would support a higher amount of debt cancellation through legislation, but Schumer said executive action remained “far and away, the quickest, best, and easiest” method. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a press briefing on February 17 that the Justice Department would review Biden’s ability to cancel student debt through executive action.

But despite the calls to cancel $50,000 in student loan debt, even the “most generous” cancellation scenario would not solve the bigger problems that drive the high debt levels in the country.

“Any economic forces that contributed to the current stock of student debt today, such as increasing tuition costs and increasing enrollment among low-income families, will continue to push tomorrow’s students to accumulate debt,” the report said. “Any long-term solution to relieving students is incomplete without addressing these underlying forces.”

Read the original article on Business Insider