Putting Profits Before People

It is really, really difficult to mount effective opposition to even the stupidest, craziest policies of the Trump Administration, because there are so many of them. From the environment to the social safety net to the rule of law, the attacks just keep coming.

So if you haven’t heard about the variety of ways in which Betsy DeVos is protecting her for-profit pals while screwing over taxpayers, students and public schools, that’s unfortunate but entirely understandable.

Lest Betsy get buried in this administration’s growing mountain of excrement, let me share one  decision that highlights her priorities–priorities that perfectly align with those of her fellow Trumpian plutocrats.

Courtesy of the Brookings Institution, we learn

On a Friday in mid-August, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos quietly announced that she would abolish the Obama administration’s gainful employment (GE) regulation–a safeguard that protected students from for-profit career programs that left graduates with poor job prospects and unmanageable student debt.

Her decision means that hundreds of thousands of our nation’s students–chiefly minority students, single moms, veterans, dislocated workers, and working adults–will now be trapped in low-performing for-profit programs and burdened with unaffordable and often life-limiting debts. Her regulatory rollback marks a betrayal not only of our nation’s most vulnerable students, but an abandonment of traditional conservative principles about institutional accountability for taxpayer dollars.

You have to read this jaw-dropping description of how the Department of Education “oversees” for-profit institutions to see just how far this purportedly “conservative” administration has strayed from what used to be bedrock conservative dogma.

To see just how extreme Secretary DeVos’s departure is from conservative principles, we ask this litmus test question: What would it take for a career education program to lose its eligibility for federal student aid under Secretary DeVos’s plan? The answer: A for-profit institution cannot lose its financial lifeline, no matter how poorly it performs its statutory mission to train students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation. One hundred percent of students can drop out of their career program, or not a single graduate could land a job in their field of training, and still the federal government would be willing to keep the taxpayer money pipeline of federal student loans and Pell Grants flowing unabated to the school. It’s a federal free-money plan—“accountability” stripped of consequences.

When I characterize DeVos’ approach as a departure–a U turn!– from what used to be GOP orthodoxy, I’m not exaggerating. In my wildest imagination, I never thought I would point to Bill Bennett–a blowhard I detested–as an example of “doing it right.” (But then, I wouldn’t have believed that I would look back at George W. Bush with something close to fondness, either…)

Bennett, as most of you probably remember, headed up DOE under Saint Ronald Reagan.

When he realized that numerous for-profit colleges were performing abysmally, he proposed new regulations that forced more than 2,000 postsecondary institutions to immediately face a hearing to determine whether their default rate on federal student loans was over 20%. If it was, their participation in federal student aid programs was limited, suspended, or terminated. Bennett especially blasted shoddy trade school programs, calling their “pattern of abuses” “an outrage.”

Then there was Lamar Alexander, also a Republican. He spearheaded the 1992 amendments to the Higher Education Act (HEA), under which postsecondary institutions lost their eligibility for federal student aid if their student default rates exceeded 25 percent for three consecutive years. By 2000, more than a thousand postsecondary schools lost their eligibility–and more than 80% of them were for-profit.

When a political party reverses its longstanding position on an issue, the obvious question is why.

The first and most important cause of the Republican retreat from accountability is the growing power of the for-profit college lobby. By 2005, the eight largest for-profit college chains had a combined market value of $26 billion. For-profit colleges, which always had aggressive lobbying operations, started donating much more money to congressional representatives and switched more of their giving from Democrats to Republican lawmakers. When the Obama administration released its final GE rule, the for-profit lobby donated twice as much to Republican lawmakers ($1.17 million) as to Democratic lawmakers ($583,000).

You really need to read the entire report. And weep.


  1. You need to understand the logic of the Donor Class to better understand why they push for these absurd programs–privatization. They want to replace everything run by the government with markets. Libertarian Koch’s want to replace ALL aspects of the government with free markets.

    They’ve been working to brainwash our culture for decades and it went beyond its tipping point about a decade ago. What pushed it beyond Gladwell’s magical point?

    A black man was elected into the White House.

    First, they flipped the states and then they got Trump. They didn’t want Trump, but they got Pence where they wanted.

    The Plutocrats don’t want to deal with liberated minds…they want disciplined workers who will work for cheap. They want to create the Mexican worker in the USA. Haven’t you heard the occasional slips by Trump saying the minimum wage is too high?

    That wasn’t supposed to leave the White House.

    Once again, Muncie has an interesting scenario. The school district was captured by the state in a back room coup. Ball State who advocates for charter schools around the state runs the school district. Apparently, a new charter is seeking to open in Muncie now to give parents an option and our Mayor is fighting it. Hmm!?!

    Now that Ball State is running a school district they are suddenly opposed to charter schools. They believe its too early and disruptive to have a charter school in Muncie. LOL

    You can’t make this stuff up. And Ball State has access to a free pool of labor and yet they are concerned with a little competition.

    Everybody wants to operate a monopoly unless you’re the other guy. Then you want the markets opened up. Markets are insidious and they bring out the worst in human behavior.

    Another point to ponder…if billionaires don’t want to spend half their dollar on education for which they have no control until recently with their victories in red states, how long before they start going after universities who produce near worthless diplomas and indentured servants to the capitalist system?

    Wait, what was that again? 😉

  2. This country is steadily moving closer and closer on all levels to conditions in the novel “Hunger Games”. Remember; we fall down much faster than we are able to rise up, we have watched this happen since January 20, 2017. House Republicans have six more weeks to continue their support of Trump and Bannon’s “deconstruction” of, not only the government, but this nation.

    I will again use Muhammad Ali’s movie theme song as a reminder of how “deconstructive” DeVos’ actions are; “I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way.” What are we teaching them and all who seek to be educated? Who will our leaders be in the future if we don’t stop Betsy and “The Donald” now?

  3. Todd,

    The Kochs don’t want to eliminate all of government. They want police and military to protect THEIR private property rights. I say THEIR because they are in favor of using eminant domain to take land for the Keystone pipe line, owned by a foreign entity, that would accrue to their benefit. I would like them to answer one question: “How much is enough?”

  4. Peggy,

    “The Kochs don’t want to eliminate all of government. They want police and military to protect THEIR private property rights.”

    You’re absolutely right. It’s call a POLICE STATE. That’s nothing new. A good example would be South Africa, during Apartheid or the American South, before Civil Rights legislation in the 60’s.

  5. The President Agent Orange and Pastor Regime have taken the approach of loot to your heart’s content, until your are caught. Given that we have unqualified political hack as Acting US AG, do not hold your breath waiting for indictments.

    Speaking of AG’s: INDIANAPOLIS — Less than three weeks after learning he would not be criminally charged for allegedly groping four women at a capital city bar, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill has been chosen to lead the Republican Attorneys General Association.

    Hill will serve as vice chairman of the national organization that raises money and works to elect Republicans to the office of attorney general in all 50 states.

    The new chairman is Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is awaiting trial after being indicted in 2015 for felony securities fraud.
    Paxton and Curtis Hill have met the standards set by President Agent Orange: A Fraudster and a Grabber.

    Yesterday, was Veteran’s Day, but President Agent Orange could not be bothered to go out to Arlington Cemetery and lay a wreath. Those bone spurs must have hampered his movements. Anyway, as a Veteran, President Agent Orange “taking a knee” rather going to Arlington Cemetery is a good thing, he would have polluted the place with some toxic comments anyway.

  6. On a purely selfish note – has anyone heard an update on the status of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program? I have been hearing since DeVos was appointed that she intended to kill it off, and killing it off has been slipped into budget amendments in the past – but I don’t think it’s gone through yet. My last certification went through, so as of maybe 6 months ago it was still an active program.

    As someone who is 11/10th of the way through (I foolishly consolidated my loans after making 3 years of payments and had to start over) I’m back up to about 7/10th of the way through again and I’d love to actually be able to use it eventually.

  7. “On a Friday in mid-August, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos quietly announced that she would abolish the Obama administration’s gainful employment (GE) regulation–a safeguard that protected students from for-profit career programs that left graduates with poor job prospects and unmanageable student debt.”

    I went back to an earlier blog; Hard Cases And Bad Law”, October 19, 2018: “When the FCC eliminated Net Neutrality, more than 20 states filed law suits, arguing that the agency had acted arbitrarily.”

    Betsy DeVos’ intentions regarding education all appear to be “arbitrary”; can states file law suits to prevent her intentions from being activated on the same grounds? The same question can be put to her intent to base public education as “God’s Kingdom”; HER religion being the basis, can religious organizations not file law suits due to the specific denomination of religion she intends to base the entire country’s public education on?

    I went further back to the blog “the Dinosaurs On Noah’s Ark”, September 23, 2018: A quote from a member of the Arizona state panel for public instruction, to aid in teaching evolution in science class; “The earth is just 6,000 years old and dinosaurs were present on Noah’s Ark. But only young ones, the adult ones were too big to fit, don’t you know.” To quote Sheila from this same blog;”A scientific theory is not the equivalent of a wild-ass guess.” Is not DeVos’ intent to abolish Gainful Employment regulation regarding education and the economy not just another “wild-ass guess”?

  8. A theme in the Trump administration is to harm as many of your so-called enemies as possible and help as many of your so-called friends as possible at the taxpayers’ expense. Trump is a grifter and has surrounded himself with other grifters.

  9. Peggy,

    The answer from the rich to your question, “How much is enough?” is “Just a little more.”


    You finally put together the summary for our descent into fascism and oligarchy run by despotic dictators. We have quickly become the third-world banana republic that the super rich have always wanted.

    Betsy DeVos is also following the script from her brother’s enterprise of mercenary marketing: Use government money to fund your friends and ignore any semblance of ethical behavior.

  10. there should be a easy to read from every such enity,such as a school,employer.or?such as, a page where the student can,before,enroling,and taking a loan for thier future study for employment,where the company has some accredited institutions they seek,for incoming employees,or partners. now we all know harvard is beyond most fields beyond real life jobs,but,if the companies are hiriing,a list of what they expect,should be up front. no guarentee,but a recommeded avenue for the future employee,as also to give the student a list,of,schools that may excel in that field. insurence companies,should be listed on doctors and hospital acceptance for coverage,as the contract number of the policy that you posess. (here in nodak we have maybe 4 underwriters,as minnesota has many more,hense our health care sucks and costs more,)but there should be a source on every companies web site,and no hidden facts,they either agree,or dont.. we can all read,we mostly comprehend,and try and achive the goal before stepping out,but scamming is just that,a scam. theres reasons why for profit schools,fail,mainly,money, like private or socalled charter primary education.how in the hell can you sell its cheaper,when you have for profit company running them? if its not for profit,then i suppose the upper tier works for free,and only the costs are absorbed,and spent as neeeded,of course with refunds given back to the taxpayer,right? ( bogus dream,eh?) my feelings,when you hire the head of such a enity,the tax paying public of that enity,must be able to vote any head official out,like the dean,superintendant,and make the vote a final move.a city/county council should reconize the public as the sole vote.. council memebers and employees are not allowed to vote..

  11. by the way,where does devos tie her boats up?id like to ask the harbor master if her moreage is paid up..

  12. The real bummer in all this is that while all this charade of an administration is busy dismantling all things American and meaningful to our progress as a nation – the children affected are losing valuable time – not learning at the levels our Nations capabilities should offer ALL students! The man and his lackeys and idiots need to be tossed from the halls of government – plain and simple and it looks like if we can restrain him tight enough we the People will see this evil again UNDONE! Enough of this FOOL and his imps! omg.

  13. Sheila, don’t get too far down the well of looking back at GWB “with something approaching fondness”. He was every bit as bad as, and in many cases worse, than trump. True, he had much better manners and his verbal fumbles could be endearing. when he lied us into a war because some tinpot dictator insulted his daddy, and gave us neverending deficit spending (remember the articles ca. 1998 about how we’d be able to use current and projected budget surpluses to pay off the entire national debt by 2010? Good times). The refugee crisis that he started in Iraq is a contributor to the European migrant crisis that’s being used by opportunistic European fascists to gain power over there, and is feeding off the nativist sentiment being encouraged here. Shrub and Darth Cheney knew how government worked and were able to do incredible damage while ostensibly following the rules.

    trump is in a unique place to encourage the “burn it all down” mentality he fans in his followers but he wouldn’t be where he is, doing what he’s doing, without the damage done by GWB, Saint Reagan, Gingrich, McConnell and others.

    My fear is that competent people who have no compunction about breaking the rules will follow this maladministration of INcompetent people who have no compunction about breaking the rules. Then the neo-feudalists will turn us into Russia, where the only reason for money to exist is so a handful of people at the very top can have it all.

  14. Make more money regardless of the impact on any others. The oligarchs and their entertainment media recruited cult would like that to replace our Constitution. Then the wealthy would be absolutely free.

    Of course everyone else would be economically enslaved. The Dark Ages chapter two. We the people become we the serfs. The 1% would be the new aristocracy safe in their castles and navies and air forces protected by everyone else as required by make more money regardless of the impact on any others, the ultimate result of absolute power corruption.

    We have accomplished step one in preventing that dystopia. The majority is back in power and some common sense has returned to DC. Now we move to stage two. Stop as much legislation as possible, empower the House, paralyze the Senate, investigate the executive, hope that Ruth Bader Ginsburg has a few more years in her and/or enough evidence can be found to impeach Kavanaugh before he refuses to hold his King accountable.

    It will be an ugly chapter in our history but at least all of the corruption will be out in the light and being dealt with according to our Constitution and not the Capitalist Creed.

  15. Warren,

    Precisely. Republicanism is on the march to destroy a democratic republic and replace it with an oligarch- run dictatorship fronted by a tin-pot dictator. It’s how third-world banana republics operate. We’re there now. Ever since Gingrich opened his goddamned mouth, it’s been downhill with the Koch brothers and the Mercers waiting at the bottom.

    Horrifying and completely disgusting.

  16. Peggy,

    I would also add to the Koch’s description of free markets and very little government is that the little people must still be taxed at a rate that can support subsidies for Koch industries. Kochs do not want to fully fund the expenses of their businesses. They expect the little people to be taxed to help support them. That is their vision of a free market. It is free for them, but free for no one else.

  17. Todd

    Your comments today are on target. The goal of the 1% is complete profitization (new word!) of any and all public services/institutions until they are bled dry. Then, of course, they will look to the taxpayers for bailouts.

    I have always referred to privatization as piratization–and that is what it is.

  18. Wray,

    “Todd, your comments today are on target.”

    Wray, Todd is on target, almost every day. You just haven’t realized it as such, since “America: [is] The Land of the Blind, where the One-eyed Man is King.” The foregoing will be the title of my new essay, which will be a sequel to “Democracide: The Far Right’s Path to Power.”

  19. From the American Psychological Association website:


    Research on a phenomenon known as INATTENTIONAL blindness suggests that unless we pay close attention, we can miss even the most conspicuous events.


    Monitor Staff

    April 2001, Vol 32, No. 4

    “Picture this: a teen-ager, cruising down a familiar highway, keeping a conscientious eye on the speedometer, the rear view mirror, the oncoming traffic. Too late, he notices a deer standing in the road. He slams on the brakes but can’t avoid striking the animal.

    Later, the teen insists to his skeptical parents that his eyes were on the road–he was paying attention to his driving. He just never saw the deer.

    Why are the boy’s parents skeptical? Because intuitively, people believe that as long as our eyes are open, we are seeing. Even as we recognize that the brain does a lot of processing behind the scenes, we expect that at least salient objects–a large animal in our path, for example–will capture our attention.

    Just as people intuitively believe that seeing is a matter only of opening one’s eyes, cognitive scientists also once assumed that visual perception is like a videotape–that the mind records what the eyes take in. But increasingly, studies of visual perception have demonstrated how startlingly little people see when we’re not paying attention, a phenomenon known as “inattentional blindness.””
    Some of those Germans, who said that they weren’t aware of the concentration camps in their area during W.W. II, were probably speaking the truth, just as many Americans haven’t been aware of how deep the Anti-semitism has become in the past 40 years.

    For anyone who has suffered from “inattentional blindness,” I would suggest taking a look at http://www.Democracide.info for a better understanding of the major source of the problem.

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