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Chamber stuck between a rock and a hard place



With Daniel Lippman and Theodoric Meyer

PROGRAMMING NOTE: POLITICO Influence will not publish on Monday, Feb. 15. We’ll be back on our normal schedule on Tuesday, Feb. 16.

REPUBLICANS WANNA KNOW: WHAT’S GOING ON AT THE CHAMBER? The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is having a political identity crisis, Theodoric Meyer and I report. Over the past month, Washington’s most powerful trade group has taken a series of steps that have enraged its traditional Republican allies. It applauded much of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill; cheered Biden’s decision to rejoin the Paris climate agreement; backed the former leader of the liberal Center of American Progress, Neera Tanden, for Office of Management and Budget director; and expressed openness to raising the minimum wage, though not to $15 an hour.

— All of that has put the Chamber, which is known for its bruising battles with past Democratic administrations, occupying an increasingly lonely political center, caught between angry Republicans who feel the trade group has abandoned them and Democrats who are pursuing policies anathema to many Chamber members.

— Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) said in an interview that the Chamber “has forgotten Main Street America” and would have to decide what it wanted to be in Biden’s Washington. Josh Holmes, a former chief of staff to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) who remains a close ally, called some of the Chamber’s recent positions “totally unmoored to any sort of advocacy for business whatsoever.”

Neil Bradley, the Chamber’s executive vice president and chief policy officer, defended the Tanden endorsement in an interview and maintained that the Chamber is approaching the Biden administration the same way it approached the Trump White House. “Some people may have assumed that somehow the Chamber was an arm of a political party,” he said. “They were wrong in that assumption.”

— But bipartisanship isn’t a popular approach within either party right now, and the business lobby hasn’t exactly been welcomed with open arms by Democrats, who still recoil at the Chambers efforts to defeat Obamacare and financial regulatory reform. They’re “in no man’s land,” said John Feehery, a longtime Republican lobbyist. Matt Haller, a former Chamber staffer who’s now the International Franchise Association’s top lobbyist, rejected such pessimism about the Chamber of Commerce’s shift. “There will always be a middle” among members of Congress, he said.

PROBABLY JUST A COINCIDENCE: Nearly half a dozen conservative groups released a joint statement this morning opposing Tanden’s OMB nomination and designating her confirmation as a key vote. The statement, issued by the heads of Heritage Action, Club for Growth, American Conservative Union, March for Life Action, and FreedomWorks, argues that “policies supported by Tanden will undoubtedly damage America’s fiscal, economic, moral and social well-being,” while painting the CAP founder as “radical” and “extreme.”

Happy Friday and welcome to PI. A quick programming note: PI will be off on Monday for Presidents Day, but we’ll be back in your inboxes on Tuesday. In the meantime, keep the tips coming: [email protected]. And follow me on Twitter: @caitlinoprysko.

‘THIS IS … HOW WASHINGTON WORK’: POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein reports on a trove of newly unsealed court filings that offer “new insight into how a high-flying businessman and prolific political donor pushing multibillion-dollar deals related to Libyan riches amassed under Moammar Gadhafi’s regime tried to maneuver his way into Joe Biden’s inner circle.”

— As Imaad Zuberi “awaits sentencing next week on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent, tax evasion, illegal campaign donations and obstruction of justice, a slew of his emails, text messages and other records have gone public, detailing his efforts to work the levers of power in Washington and elsewhere.”

— Some of the most eyebrow-raising revelations are texts from Zuberi “describing outreach to Fran Person, who spent eight years as a personal aide, or so-called body man, to then-Vice President Biden,” just before Zuberi “embarked on a frenzied effort to help new leaders in Libya unlock as much as $30 billion worth of government assets frozen in the chaos that followed the fall of Gadhafi’s” regime. The texts show Zuberi “discussing a potential deal on the Libya funds involving Person and others, as well as arranging meetings on the topic in Washington and Paris.”

— The documents also offer a revealing look into how Zuberi viewed dealmaking in Washington. “On the way to Washington, I read the new book Clinton Cash. You must read because it discussed how Indian businessman helped make US Indian civilian nuclear deal via Clinton,” Zuberi wrote to his associate on the Libya project, referring to the 2015 book written by GOP operative Peter Schweizer. “This is how America work. How Washington work.”

CREDIT EXPERTS FORM TRADE GROUP: Consumer credit experts have banded together to create the American Association of Consumer Credit Professionals, an advocacy group helping consumers navigate the credit reporting process in order to repair their credit scores. The group “will lobby at the state and federal levels on behalf of the credit repair industry and the consumer, and their right to fair and balanced credit practices,” said Liz Shrum, a spokesperson for the group, which will also focus on racial inequities in the credit system.

ANNALS OF FUNDRAISING: “Prominent Democratic political committees are quietly exiling embattled megadonor Martin Elling,” who played a “leading role in a massive opioid drug scandal that’s throttled his former employer, consulting giant McKinsey & Company, and coincided with his firing,” Business Insider’s Dave Levinthal reports.

— Over 20 years, “Elling has spread nearly $2 million among dozens of federal-level political committees, almost all Democratic,” including those of President Joe Biden and dozens of Senate and House candidates. “The New York Times last year reported that Elling had helped lead McKinsey’s effort to ‘turbocharge’ sales” of Purdue Pharma’s opioid drug OxyContin, and that he “suggested to a colleague that he destroy records that might implicate him in the opioid sales push.”

— “Elling is the latest example of top-tier political bankrollers who suddenly became liabilities to the recipients of their patronage” on both sides of the aisle. “But as Democrats banish Elling, they’re loath to publicly speak of it. … More than a dozen other Democratic political committees and officials to whom Elling gave four- or five-figure contributions during the 2019-2020 election cycle did not respond this week to repeated Insider inquiries.”

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ATLANTIC: After four years of haggling, European governments have agreed on new online privacy rules, POLITICO EU’s Laura Kayali and Vincent Manancourt report. Though the European Commission first released proposed text in January 2017, “until Wednesday, eight countries at the helm of the EU Council tried, and failed, to find an agreement among governments. It didn’t help that the bill was subject to one of the most intense influence campaigns ever seen on digital files. Big Tech, European telecom operators and press publishers intensively lobbied against the text, arguing it would hamper innovation and limit media pluralism.” The massive lobbying campaign, as well as the disagreement among European capitals, resulted in a process that “outlasted eight EU presidencies and two Commissions and Parliaments before Wednesday’s vote, presided over by Portugal.”

BCW LAUNCHES PUBLIC SECTOR FOCUS: Burson Cohn & Wolfe on Thursday announced the formation of a new public affairs unit focused specifically on public sector clients. “As the new administration ramps up, many agencies will need to develop and launch compelling strategic communications campaigns to disseminate President Biden’s priorities, policies and objectives to the American public,” said Dan Doherty, BCW’s executive vice president for North America public affairs and head of its crisis practice, in a statement. The new unit is already under contract with a handful of federal agencies including the VA, Commerce Department, Pentagon and HHS.

Sirona Strategies has hired Tharini Sathiamoorthy as a senior director. She plans to register to lobby. She previously handled global external affairs for U.S. Pharmacopeia.

Precision Strategies has hired Tim Rice as a director in its strategic communications practice. He was previously executive vice president, managing director and a corporate branding and financial services specialist at Burson Cohn & Wolfe.

Dan Webber will become president of Edelman’s D.C. office. He was previously managing director of their D.C. operations and succeeds Lisa Osborne Ross, who will become COO full time.

David Broome will be executive vice president for government relations at the Professional Services Council, Playbook reports. He previously was senior vice president of government relations for Israel Aerospace Industries, and is a Bush alum.

BOLD Victory 2022 (Reps. Antonio Delgado (D-N.Y.), Mike Levin (D-Calif.), Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas), LLEGO-PAC)

Council of Cosmic Clearance (Super PAC)
Health Jobs Justice (Leadership PAC: Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.))
Just Win Baby (Leadership PAC: Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah))
Nā Kānaka for Federal Recognition (Super PAC)

Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld: International Business Machines Corporation
Artemis Policy Group LLC: The Society For Maternal-Fetal Medicine
Capitaledge Advocacy Inc. (Formerly Capitaledge Advocacy, LLC): Pioneer Valley Planning Commission
Cavarocchi Ruscio Dennis Associates, L.L.C.: Rhoads Industries
Fti Government Affairs: Elite Flower Services Inc
Halcyon Strategy LLC: Reardon Consulting, LLC On Behalf Of Private Investor Coalition
Halcyon Strategy LLC: Reardon Consulting, LLC On Behalf Of S Corporation Association
Hannegan Landau Poersch & Rosenbaum Advocacy, LLC: National Hospice And Palliative Care Organization
Holland & Knight LLP: National Mining Association
Impact Public Affairs (Formerly Massey, Watson & Hembree LLC: Dulany Industries, Inc.
Kevin Kayes: Fwd.US
Kevin Kayes: NCTA
Kevin Kayes: Nextnav LLC
King & Spalding LLP: Luminultra Technologies Ltd.
Marshall & Popp, LLC: Ford Motor Company
Ms. Tami Wahl: Green Farms Co, LLC
Muroff Law Firm, LLC: Central Philadelphia Development Corporation
Natural Resource Results LLC: American Whitewater
Public Strategies Washington, Inc.: Bausch Health Companies, Inc.
Reardon Consulting, LLC: Private Investor Coalition
Tower 19: Birch Creek Development
Tower 19: Lincoln Park Group On Behalf Of City Of Palmdale
Tower 19: Miller Strategies, LLC On Behalf Of Amazon Web Services, Inc.
Tower 19: Miller Strategies, LLC On Behalf Of Oak View Group, LLC
Tower 19: Sentinel Midstream LLC

Alpine Group Partners, LLC.: Grassland Water District
Alpine Group Partners, LLC.: New Water
Ballard Partners: Balsam Brands, Inc.
Banner Public Affairs, LLC: Next Animation Services
Horizon Government Affairs: National Kidney Foundation
Kevin Kayes: Att Services Inc (Formerly Att)
Moonwalker Associates: Clark Hill, Plc On Behalf Of Persivia, Inc.
Reardon Consulting, LLC: Venn Strategies On Behalf Of Private Investor Coalition
The Liaison Group, LLC: Oregon Cannabis Association

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?



When you hear the name Sallie Mae, you probably think of student loans. There’s a good reason for that; Sallie Mae has a long history, during which time it has provided both federal and private student loans.

However, as of 2014, all of Sallie Mae’s student loans are private, and its federal loans have been sold to another servicer. Here’s what to know if you have a Sallie Mae loan or are considering taking one out.

What is Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is a company that currently offers private student loans. But it has taken a few forms over the years.

In 1972, Congress first created the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA) as a private, for-profit corporation. Congress gave SLMA, commonly called “Sallie Mae,” the status of a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) to support the company in its mission to provide stability and liquidity to the student loan market as a warehouse for student loans.

However, in 2004, the structure and purpose of the company began to change. SLMA dissolved in late December of that year, and the SLM Corporation, or “Sallie Mae,” was formed in its place as a fully private-sector company without GSE status.

In 2014, the company underwent another big adjustment when Sallie Mae split to form Navient and Sallie Mae. Navient is a federal student loan servicer that manages existing student loan accounts. Meanwhile, Sallie Mae continues to offer private student loans and other financial products to consumers. If you took out a student loan with Sallie Mae prior to 2014, there’s a chance that it was a federal student loan under the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

At present, Sallie Mae owns 1.4 percent of student loans in the United States. In addition to private student loans, the bank also offers credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts to its customers, many of whom are college students.

What is the difference between private and federal student loans?

When you’re seeking financing to pay for college, you’ll have a big choice to make: federal versus private student loans. Both types of loans offer some benefits and drawbacks.

Federal student loans are educational loans that come from the U.S. government. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, there are four types of federal student loans available to qualified borrowers.

With federal student loans, you typically do not need a co-signer or even a credit check. The loans also come with numerous benefits, such as the ability to adjust your repayment plan based on your income. You may also be able to pause payments with a forbearance or deferment and perhaps even qualify for some level of student loan forgiveness.

On the negative side, most federal student loans feature borrowing limits, so you might need to find supplemental funding or scholarships if your educational costs exceed federal loan maximums.

Private student loans are educational loans you can access from private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. On the plus side, private student loans often feature higher loan amounts than you can access through federal funding. And if you or your co-signer has excellent credit, you may be able to secure a competitive interest rate as well.

As for drawbacks, private student loans don’t offer the valuable benefits that federal student borrowers can enjoy. You may also face higher interest rates or have a harder time qualifying for financing if you have bad credit.

Are Sallie Mae loans better than federal student loans?

In general, federal loans are the best first choice for student borrowers. Federal student loans offer numerous benefits that private loans do not. You’ll generally want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and review federal funding options before applying for any type of private student loan — Sallie Mae loans included.

However, private student loans, like those offered by Sallie Mae, do have their place. In some cases, federal student aid, grants, scholarships, work-study programs and savings might not be enough to cover educational expenses. In these situations, private student loans may provide you with another way to pay for college.

If you do need to take out private student loans, Sallie Mae is a lender worth considering. It offers loans for a variety of needs, including undergrad, MBA school, medical school, dental school and law school. Its loans also feature 100 percent coverage, so you can find funding for all of your certified school expenses.

With that said, it’s always best to compare a few lenders before committing. All lenders evaluate income and credit score differently, so it’s possible that another lender could give you lower interest rates or more favorable terms.

The bottom line

Sallie Mae may be a good choice if you’re in the market for private student loans and other financial products. Just be sure to do your research upfront, as you should before you take out any form of financing. Comparing multiple offers always gives you the best chance of saving money.

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Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances



Wealth manager, Harry Abrahamsen, has five simple ways to stay on top of the big financial picture.

PORTLAND, Maine — Keeping track of our financial stability is something we can all do, whether we have IRAs or 401ks or just a checking account. Harry J. Abrahamsen is the Founder of Abrahamsen Financial Group. He works with clients to create and grow their own wealth. Abrahamsen shares five financial tips, starting with knowing what you have. 

1. Analyze Your Finances Quarterly or Biannually

You want to make sure that your long-term strategy is congruent with your short-term strategy. If the short-term is not working out, you may need to adjust what you are doing to make sure your outcome produces the desired results you are looking to accomplish. It is just like setting sail on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You know where you want to go and plot your course, but there are many factors that need to be considered to actually get you across and across safely. Your finances behave the exact same way. Check your current situation and make sure you are taking into consideration all of the various wealth-eroding factors that can take you completely off course.

With interest rates very low, now might be a good time to consider refinancing student loans or mortgages, or consolidating credit card debt. However, do so only if you need to or if you can create a positive cash flow. To ensure that you are saving the most by doing so, you must look at current payments, excluding taxes and insurance costs. This way you can do an apples-to-apples comparison.

The most important things to look for when reviewing your credit report is accuracy. Make sure the reporting agencies are reporting things actuary. If it doesn’t appear to be reporting correct and accurate information, you should consult with a reputable credit repair company to help you fix the incorrect information.

4. Savings and Retirement Accounts

The most important thing to consider when reviewing your savings and retirement accounts is to make sure the strategies match your short-term and long-term investment objectives. All too often people end up making decisions one at a time, at different times in their lives, with different people, under different circumstances. Having a sound strategy in place will allow you to view your finances with a macro-economic lens vs a micro-economic view. Stay the course and adjust accordingly from a risk and tax standpoint.

RELATED: Financial lessons learned through the pandemic

A great tip for lowering utility bills or car insurance premiums: Simply ask! There may be things you are not aware of that could save you hundreds of dollars every month. You just need to call all of the companies that you do business with to find out about cost-cutting strategies. 

RELATED: Overcome your fear of finances

To learn more about Abrahamsen Financial, click here

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How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit



Sana pwedeng mabura ang bad credit history as quickly and easily as paying off your utility bills, ‘no? Unfortunately, it takes time. And bago mo pa maayos ang bad credit mo, more often than not, kailangan mo na namang mag-avail ng panibagong loan. 

Good thing you can still get a loan even with bad credit, kahit na medyo limited ang options. How do you get a loan if you have bad credit? Alamin sa short guide na ito. 

For more finance tips, visit Moneymax.



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