The incoming Republican majority, as laid out in today’s Progress Report, is bringing with it an extreme fealty to corporate interests. House Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-AL) explained that, in his view, Washington’s role is “to serve the banks.” Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) penned a letter to 150 trade associations, companies and think tanks asking them to identify which government regulations they’d like to see eliminated.
Reps. Bill Young (R-FL), Howard McKeon (R-CA), John Mica (R-FL), Doc Hastings (R-WA), and Bachus (AL) “all have either received substantial contributions from the industries that their committees oversee, or have former staff members lobbying for those same businesses.” And education policy is not immune to this corporatization. As the Chronicle of Higher Education pointed out, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) has been placed in charge of the subcommittee overseeing higher education policy; Foxx has already vowed to work to renew corporate welfare in the student loan program and to shield for-profit colleges from regulatory scrutiny:
Ms. Foxx has criticized legislation that ended the bank-based program for supplying federal student loans in favor of 100-percent direct lending, in which students obtain their loans from the Department of Education. She said on Tuesday that the bill “eliminated choice, competition, and innovations from student lending,” and promised hearings aimed at making “improvements to a very flawed law.”
She may also take the lead in Republican efforts to block or overturn recent Education Department rules that could hurt for-profit colleges, though that job could fall to the education committee chairman, John Kline of Minnesota.
That “flawed” law that Foxx wants to revisit is the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), which cut billions of dollars in senseless subsidies that student loan companies were receiving to originate federal student loans, and plowed the money into deficit reduction and an expansion of the Pell Grant program. Undoing this law would require putting bankers back in between students and their federal loans.
For-profit colleges — institutions like Strayer University and the University of Phoenix — and their congressional allies have been trying to fend off enhanced regulation, even as the schools’ executives line their pockets with taxpayer dollars and they leave students crippled with debt. For-profit colleges have even scammed $521 million from the U.S. taxpayer “by recruiting armed-services members and veterans through misleading marketing.”
Yet Foxx is taking aim at rules written in an attempt to ensure that these schools actually give students an education that is worth the price. With these two positions, Foxx is standing with those who reap profits off of higher education and against students — which puts her right in line with the rest of her House leadership, I suppose.