Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 13, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

STUDENT LOANS....In recent years, Education Department officials have been notified about several "questionable practices" in the student loan industry but have decided not to bother doing anything about them. Why?

At least eight top officials in the Education Department during the Bush administration either came from student-loan or related organizations or have taken lucrative jobs in that arena since leaving the agency....Members of Congress — including the Democrats who head committees overseeing education, Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Rep. George Miller of California — say they are concerned about the industry ties.

....Some Republicans are critical as well, including Rep. Tom Petri of Wisconsin. "It's hard for a program staffed mainly by folks in the industry to impartially conduct oversight of the industry," says Thomas Culligan, Mr. Petri's aide for education policy.

It's nice to see that at least one Republican cares about this. But since it's practically the founding principle of the modern party, I somehow doubt that his concern will spread widely.

Kevin Drum 11:28 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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Comments

See...
Take the word "oversight"
See...
In other words
It means...
See...it means...
"Over" means "to see over"
And sight means "to see"
So together they mean "oversight"
In other words see...
It means... see...
To see over or past or beyond or above...
That's what we do: oversight...
It's hard work see...
And a lot of good people are involved in oversight See...
But see...
In other words...
It's hard work...
Oversightin' is hard work.
See?

Posted by: President Bush on April 13, 2007 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

The Republicans having an inherently corrupt manner of doing politics/business is the core meme to spread, explaining to the public at large why not to vote Republican. This is a matter of principle that transcends ideological slant, social values, pro-military and gun rights etc, love for limited goverment and small budgets, etc.

Posted by: Neil B. on April 13, 2007 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

At least eight top officials in the Education Department during the Bush administration either came from student-loan or related organizations or have taken lucrative jobs in that arena since leaving the agency

Sounds like a great idea to me. Hiring people who worked in the student-loan industry allows the Department to tap their expertise on the subject. Also, student loan default rates have plummeted since this new hiring practice has started.

Link

"Katherine McLane, a spokeswoman for Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, defends the department's record, saying that it taps private-sector experience to improve efficiency and provide "better service to students and families." She notes that student loan default rates have plummeted on the Republicans' watch and that, in 2005, the Government Accountability Office removed the department's student aid office from a list of government programs at high risk for "fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement.""

Posted by: Al on April 13, 2007 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Wouldn't it be awesome if our country had a professional media corps that gave a damn?! The Bush Administration doesn't even try to serve the public interest. It's not that they're bad at it--it's that they don't even try. And most of the media corps doesn't care.

Posted by: reino on April 13, 2007 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

After six years of mutual back-scratching between the Republican Congress and the Republican WH, now there are only two years to clean out the Augean Stables that the Federal Govt. has become and it really is an impossible task. We need not just one Hercules, but several and rather than call them Hercules, lets just call them Independent Counsels. If Congress doesn't appoint independent counsel to investigate these messes, come 1/20/2009 everything will be dropped as the Republican noise machine starts up a steady drumbeat that all these investigations are just partisan payback and a witch hunt. Forget about the fact that the independent counsel investigating Henry Cisneros didn't close out that investigation till 2006, with a scathing report accusing the Clinton administration of continuing to thwart his investigation even five years after they had left power. I mean Cisneros was about real transgressions like lying on a background investigation, not anything small like abusing power and the public trust.

Posted by: majun on April 13, 2007 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

None of these scandals matters so long as Bush wasn't getting a blow job from an intern.

Posted by: Disputo on April 13, 2007 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/041307L.shtml
'Matteo Fontana, an Education Department official placed on leave over a potential
conflict of interest in his management of the government's student loan program,
filed disclosure forms that raise questions about the department's oversight
of its own employees. Fontana held a significant financial interest in a company
that he was charged with overseeing.'

Posted by: MsNThrope on April 13, 2007 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

The current Republican party is a refuge and a tool for those who can't make it in the marketplace. Instead, they insinuate themselves or their friends in Republican controlled agencies that then handout contracts and favorable regulations as a sort of affirmative action for incompetent Republican businesspersons.

Today's Republican government is big government because it has so many Republican mouths to feed.

Posted by: Arlington on April 13, 2007 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, my usual table, please.

May I see your selection of troll'doeuvres? Anything new today?

Posted by: anonymous on April 13, 2007 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

majun: I mean Cisneros was about real transgressions like lying on a background investigation, not anything small like abusing power and the public trust.

Right, and it was such a serious lie, too. As recall, he admitted paying money to his mistress but lied about the amount.

Posted by: anandine on April 13, 2007 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

A few years ago a friend of mine was being sued by the University of Hawaii over a student loan that she took out through a state loan program. She was doing some research to prepare for her arbitration and discovered that indeed the student loan industry is viewed as a huge new profit center for the lending and collections industry (undischarged debt = profit!).

She found a shadowy network republican connected think tanks promoting "a shift from need based grants to wide spread lending" and "increasing lending to students regardless of need". All of this of course cloaked in the guise of "increasing access to higher education". Indeed at UH that very loan program was connected to a corruption investigation involving the officials in GOP governor Linda Lingle's administration and UH.

So goes the push by the connected and powerful to use predatory lending to make debt serfs of us all.

Posted by: Adventuregeek on April 13, 2007 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

shorter mhr: Liberals are to blame for Republican corruption.

Posted by: Disputo on April 13, 2007 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, the 1st Bush Administration tried to turn away from private lenders to granting more direct student loans; their goal was to save money by eliminating the middlemen.

But their work was undone by Congress throughout the 1990's; the money they received from bankling sources "turned the tide". The "incentive" programs were just the latest salvo.


http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9501428

Posted by: Ed Tracey on April 13, 2007 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Ed Tracey >"...their work was undone by Congress throughout the 1990's; the money they received from bankling sources "turned the tide"..."

The phrase "Republican majority Congress" somes to mind speaking of history.

"...It is in the religion of ignorance that tyranny begins..." - Benjamin Franklin

Posted by: daCascadian on April 13, 2007 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Henhouse? Check.

Chickens? Check.

Foxes? Check.

Business as usual.

Posted by: Bobbi on April 13, 2007 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

I feel sorry for today's students. There isn't single aspect of American government not perverted or corrupted by the Bush fringe of the Boomer generation. In the early days, the program was designed to encourage people to continue their schooling, not to screw them over by the collusion of banking, government and educational profit whores.

….Liberals don't read history... mh rat 12:57 PM

Actually, those who not only read history but also understand it become progressives. Others, like you, become CATO's pet parrots. The Great Society programs, the New Deal and the Fair Deal lifted millions out of poverty and provided benefits that percolated throughout society.

Posted by: Mike on April 13, 2007 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Student loans trace back to Sputnik - National Defense and all that.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on April 13, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Ummm...Mike. Most of these guys aren't Boomers. Let's leave generational antagonism out of it shall we?

Cheney's 66.
Rumsfeld's 74.
Perle's also 66.
Paul Wolfowitz is 63.

Posted by: MsNThrope on April 13, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you, Al, for our daily dose of mindlessly-parroted Administration talking points. We hardly ever get enough.

Moving on, today's note from "This Day in History" arises from sixty-six years ago today, on April 13, 1941: "Today the War and State Departments jointly announced a contract to out-source vital port security for the naval bases at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and Manila, the Philippines was awarded to Japanese defense giant Mitsubishi. It was felt that Mitsubishi had particular expertise in this field. Speaking for the War Department, spokesman Al LaTroll gave the Administration perspective on the contract:
'Sounds like a great idea to me. Hiring people who work in the industry and in the Pacific Region allows the Department to tap Mitsubishi's expertise on the subject. Also, defense expenditures have plummeted since this new contracting practice has started.'"

Posted by: shystr on April 13, 2007 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

shystr: Indeed. And all those lovely auto plants Henry Ford built in Japan turned out very nice zeros and tanks.

Posted by: MsNThrope on April 13, 2007 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

al: "student loan default rates have plummeted since this new hiring practice has started."

Of course, it could hardly be avoided since the Federal Reserve slashed the prime rate to counter the Bush recession.

al, you're slipping. Surely you could come up with a more persuasive sounding lie than this.

Posted by: bobo the chimp on April 13, 2007 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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