Saturday, March 27, 2010

Did Congressman Kanjorski Betray Sallie Mae?

see this article in the King's College Crown Newspaper

Congressman Kanjorski has posed in many photos with Sallie Mae employees. He even has a board room named after him in the Sallie Mae call center located in Hanover Township. But Congressman Kanjorski may have just betrayed the very organization that he has purported to help--and its local workers.

Late Sunday night, March 21, the House of Representatives passed HR 3590--the famed, federal healthcare overhaul which will change the nature of healthcare in the United States indefinitely. The bill passed by a narrow margin, with only 3 votes to spare. Several days before the day vote, rumor had it that Congressman Kanjorski might vote against it. However, before Congress passed the bill Sunday, Congressman Kanjorski indicated that he would vote yea, in support of it.

The passage of HR 3590 means that the reconciliation bill, HR 4872, will likely be passed. The reconciliation bill will make possible provisions set forth last September in HR 3221, a bill set to centralize control of certain federal student loans to the federal government. Sallie Mae officials claim the now-imminent reconciliation bill will threaten about 2,500 Sallie Mae jobs nation-wide and several hundred in the local center located in the Hanover Industrial Complex. Sallie Mae has aired commercials imploring locals to call Congressman Kanjorski to tell him to vote no on legislation which will threaten the local Sallie Mae jobs. Kanjorski voted in favor of HR 3590 which made possible the reconciliation bill. Kanjorski, it seems, did not listen to Sallie Mae.

But until recently, Congressman Kanjorski had been quite friendly to Sallie Mae and its employees. In April of 2009, he played a significant role in convincing Sallie Mae CEO Albert Lord to bring 600 (actually about 400) jobs to the local call center in Hanover Township. At the time, critics scoffed at the move, saying the jobs were low paying. However, I saw the move as a positive thing because those $10/hr jobs are helpful to people looking to make ends meet. Furthermore, having worked one summer in the Hanover Sallie Mae call center, I know from experience that the company treats its employees well.

Just a few months ago, Congressman Kanjorski continued, as it seemed, to be loyal to local Sallie Mae workers. In September of 2009 he voted against HR 3221, which contained educational "reforms" that Sallie Mae officials believed would threaten company jobs. Congressman Kanjorski knew Sunday night that the passing of the healthcare bill entailed, indirectly, the passing the reconciliation bill, and hence the educational reforms set forth in HR 3221. In other words, healthcare "reform" was the tipping point that made Kanjorski support educational "reforms" that may leave many local Sallie Mae employees out of work.

However, Congressman Kanjorski now claims that local Sallie Mae jobs will not be significantly affected by the implementation of HR 3221 (but for some reason he voted against it earlier). Yet, Friday, March 19th, when news surfaces that the healthcare bill would probably pass; Sallie Mae's stock price plummets over 5%. Watch Sallie Mae stock now that the bill has officially passed: it may sink. It seems local Sallie Mae workers will inevitably be affected.

One could make the argument that Kanjorski has put national interests above local interests by placing national healthcare reform (deform?) above the interests of local Sallie Mae workers. However, one could counter that the overall benefits of passing HR 3590 (and the reconciliation bill) will outweigh whatever job losses are incurred by local Sallie Mae employees. But to anyone espousing either sentiment, I would ask whether he knows of how current government regulation drives up healthcare costs. A serenade of crickets would likely respond. Anyway, if local Sallie Mae employees do in fact lose jobs because of Kanjorski's vote, the following modicum will apply: a government official like Kanjorski who is powerful enough to bring jobs to the area is powerful enough to take them away.