Early Briefing: Sallie Mae Fighting Loan Plan

With the Obama administration proposing to overhaul the programs a majority of American students use to finance their college education, the student loan industry is fighting back, Amit Paley reports.
Reston-based Sallie Mae, the nation's largest provider of student loans, recently launched a lobbying blitz on Capitol Hill and the White House, proposing a hybrid approach that combines aspects of both current federal loan programs. It has hired Tony Podesta, whose brother headed the Obama transition team, and Jamie S. Gorelick, a senior Justice Department official in the Clinton administration. The company has circulated draft legislation around Washington and pressed Democrats whose districts include Sallie Mae employees. The company recently announced the return of 2,000 jobs that were sent overseas.

As the recession decimates retailers, the ripple effects are taking a toll on Washington-area landlords, David Hilzenrath reports. In suburban Maryland, the retail vacancy rate rose to 5.4 percent as of Dec. 31, from 3.4 percent a year earlier, according to Reis, which gathers data on commercial real estate. The year-end vacancy rate was the highest since 1998. In suburban Virginia, the vacancy rate at strip shopping centers rose to 4.7 percent from 2.6 percent a year earlier, bringing it to a level unmatched since 2001.
For landlords, the local picture is still much better than the national one. Nationally, the retail vacancy rate climbed to 9.5 percent in the first quarter of this year from 8.9 percent at year-end, Reis reported.

By Terri Rupar  |  April 14, 2009; 12:07 AM ET  | Category:  Economy Watch , Morning Brief
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