President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced a new Defense strategy on January 5, 2012. The new strategy involves hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts. The mysteries in these cuts are the specifics. According to the Austin Business Journal, “President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta gave few specifics about program cuts at the U.S. Department of Defense [DOD] during a briefing Thursday on DOD’s strategy…” This is problematic because as much as the Pentagon budget needs to be cut, it should be done responsibly with the Pentagon still having the ability to meet the defense needs of the country. In addition to the Defense cuts, President Obama should also require all federal agencies to do the same and come up with target cuts.
(Todd Kruse, guest blogger for TPA, is a citizen and taxpayer from Minnesota) During my undergraduate years, my friend Brenda was working on her “double E” degree – no not Electrical Engineering as the campus slang is translated but instead she was pursuing an Elementary Education degree. I remember discussing some news event with her when she replied, “oh I have no idea, I am too busy studying………….” This is America’s problem for both our K-12 education system and our media industry - our teachers’ colleges and journalism schools appear to be completely dominated by teaching the techniques and theories of teaching and of journalism. It is now time to add some content.
The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has written extensively (click here, here, here, and here) about the federal government’s relentless pursuit of for-profit colleges through “gainful employment” regulations. DOEd proposed “gainful employment” rules which require for-profit schools to prove their graduates are either paying back loans or are capable of doing so. If not, the schools will lose access to federal student aid. Even though the final regulation was less onerous than what was proposed, the rule is directed solely at career colleges and universities, which will be heavily penalized if graduates fail to meet debt-to-income ratios. Students will no longer be able to secure federal student aid to attend a program that would give them the skills and credentials to advance their marketability in the workplace. From a poorly written Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that had to be revised, to allegations of short selling that accused high-level Department of Education officials colluding with Wall Street short-sellers to improperly leak contents of highly controversial gainful employment regulations in advance of their publication, the regulatory process has been a mess. Now, the Department of Justice has joined the crusade against for-profit colleges by suing the Education Management Corporation (EDMC) for illegal recruitment.
On June 7, 2011, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) held a hearing on the newly announced “gainful employment” regulations at the Department of Education. Mired in controversy, and the topic of numerous blog posts by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA), the hearing was supposed to be an objective look at the new regulation which could severely hurt career colleges and universities. But, according to the Chronicle for Higher Education, “…Sen. Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who held the hearing, said the rule would not do enough to protect students and taxpayers from underperforming programs, and he promised stronger legislation focused on the sector.” Just moments after the hearing, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) offered his own amendment on the subject. According to CQ.com, “Later in the day, Jim DeMint , R-S.C., added an amendment to a bill to reauthorize the Economic Development Administration (S 782) that would nullify the newly published Obama administration regulations, which focus on ‘gainful employment’ prospects for graduates of programs that receive federal financial aid.”
The Department of Education (DoEd) just released regulations known as “gainful employment” rules which, according to the Chronicle for Higher Education, states that, “Under the rule, vocational programs whose students have the highest debt burdens and lowest loan-repayment rates will become ineligible to receive federal student aid.” This regulation comes after a stormy and acrimonious rulemaking process that drew 90,000 public comments. The lofty rationale behind the rule is that it will make great strides in solving America’s student debt crisis. Of course, it will do no such thing. It represents the worst kind of misguided, biased and hypocritical rulemaking -- all pretense; no solution. Gainful employment will do little to ameliorate the student debt crisis, but is a cynical attempt to kill career colleges, a life blood of education for millions of Americans who choose not to go to traditional colleges or universities. This rule must be overturned.
TRANSPARENCY ALERT!! Department of Education Shuns Transparency in Favor of New Unnecessary Regulation
A critical element in bringing back fiscal responsibility and government accountability is transparency. When President Obama took office in 2009 he pledged to have “an unprecedented level of openness in Government.” That is why the Taxpayers Protection Alliance was so dismayed when it found out that the Department of Education (DOEd) may be side-stepping transparency in its recent regulatory actions on gainful employment rules. DOEd proposed “gainful employment” rules which require for-profit schools to prove their graduates are either paying back loans or are capable of doing so. If not, the schools will lose access to federal student aid. The process has been a mess, to say the least. DOEd was supposed to release the regulations in September 2010 but delayed the release because of an overwhelming number of petitions that were opposed to the regulation.
The for-profit education industry has been under attack. The Department of Education (DOEd) proposed “gainful employment” rules which require for-profit schools to prove their graduates are either paying back loans or are capable of doing so. If not, the schools will lose access to federal student aid. The hook is that it is only the for-profit schools that are required to do so. Former special counsel to President Clinton Lanny Davis, The National Legal and Policy Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and the DOEd Inspector General are weighing in on the issue.