Education Secretary Arne Duncan tore the nation’s largest student lender a new one today over its efforts to kill the student loan reform bill. “Sallie Mae executives have paid themselves hundreds of millions of dollars in the last decade while teachers, nurses, and scientists face crushing debt because of runaway college tuition costs,” he said in an interview with the Huffington Post, calling the bill a “once-in-a-generation, maybe once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity.
Sallie Mae has spent $4 million in the last year to lobby against the bill, which would eliminate the role of private lenders in the federal student loan program. That’s especially outrageous, Duncan says, given how much taxpayer money flows into the lenders. “I think banks have had a sweet deal,” says Duncan. “They're a powerful lobbying force, and working-class families don't have lobbyists working for them.”