Tag Archives: Obama Administration

When “Private” Really Isn’t

Remember when Ross Perot built his third-party campaign on his image as a hard-headed private-sector businessman? And it turned out that his company did most of its “private-sector” business with government?

The revelations about Trump University are highlighting a similar reality: most supposedly “private sector” universities are financed with tax dollars.

Investigations by government officials and reporters over the past few years have uncovered numerous abuses by these schools, which recruit heavily among populations unprepared for higher education, encourage students to take on government-insured loans, and fail to provide them with the education and skills they need to succeed in the job market. According to the U.S. Department of Education, for-profit schools are responsible for 44% of all student loan defaults.

Like Trump “University,” most of these institutions aren’t universities–they’re scams. And  Trump isn’t the only public office-seeker with ties to these lucrative enterprises.

Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey, in a tight race for re-election, is being criticized for his ties to Yorktown University:

The Pennsylvania Senator is expected to get the Trump U treatment over his dealings with Yorktown University, a for-profit college that has been criticized for its lack of accreditation, questionable academic offerings and marketing to veterans who can receive government tuition aid. Toomey is an investor in the online program, served on its boards and agreed to appear in its marketing materials.


Former presidential candidate Marco Rubio was hit in the Republican primary for his support of the now-closed Corinthian Colleges; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee took some heat for his support of Victory University, a for-profit based in Memphis, before its untimely demise; and former President Bill Clinton has faced censure for his lucrative work with for-profit colleges, even as his wife has criticized them.

To its credit, the Obama Administration has consistently attacked schools trading false hopes for the tuition dollars being provided courtesy of taxpayers. The Education Department’s long-debated “gainful employment” rule, which requires colleges to track their graduates’ performance in the workforce and eventually will cut off funding for career training programs that fall short, was recently upheld by the courts. The Justice Department recently announced that Education Affiliates would pay $13 million to settle allegations it had falsified federal financial aid claims and issued fake diplomas, the latest in a string of similar actions.

It is past time to shut down these phony “schools” that exist only to prey on the vulnerable while defrauding taxpayers.

Why do I think that wouldn’t happen in a Trump-Pence Administration?

Thought for a Workday Morning

According to various reports, Harry Reid is finally so fed up over the constant use/abuse of the filibuster, he is reconsidering “the nuclear option.” According to other reports, the massive overhaul of immigration that the Senate miraculously managed to pass is DOA in the House, where the Tea Party zealots who control the GOP adamantly oppose anything favored by the Administration, no matter how reasonable or humane or good for the country.

Wonder why our government doesn’t work?

Barack Obama ran for office using the slogan “Yes We Can” and the Republicans in Congress responded with a slogan of their own: “No You Can’t–we won’t let you.”

I had a couple of two-year-olds like that.

The problem is, when the equivalent of two-year-olds are preventing the grown-ups from running the country, we are all in BIG trouble.

An Interesting Exchange

Like many other civil libertarians, I have been deeply disappointed by President Obama’s willingness to continue many of the security practices of the Bush Administration. It is especially galling because–unlike Bush–Obama quite obviously knows what the Constitution requires, and has nevertheless been willing to engage in surveillance and other practices which most civil libertarians believe cross the line.President Obama gets blamed for many things he clearly doesn’t do, but in this area, disappointment in his performance is justifiable.

Because I have been pretty critical of Administration policy in this area,  I was interested in the following observation posted on the Law and Courts Listserv, a scholarly exchange to which I subscribe.

In response to a post suggesting an equivalency between the policies of the two administrations, Professor Alexander wrote:


“Eugene says the Bush antiterrorism policy “is quite similar to the Obama Administration’s antiterrorism policy.”
I like many others have been deeply disappointed in aspects of the Obama Administration’s policy on detainees and counterterrorism, as well as the efforts by Congress and judges on the D.C. Circuit to force the administration to continue Bush policies. But Eugene’s statement is simply not the case. Contrary to the Bush administration:
     * Obama has withdrawn from combat operations in Iraq and plans to
withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014;
     * Obama found and killed bin Laden;
     * on his first day in office Obama
             1) revoked all the Bush administration OLC memos, executive
orders, and directives on interrogations;
             2) ordered an end to torture, and cruel, inhumane, or
degrading treatment, and compliance with the Army field manual
(regardless of whether one thinks that is the end-all of good
interrogation practice);
             3) ordered all CIA prisons worldwide to be closed;
             4) ordered the closure of Guantanamo — it is decidedly not
his fault that the facility remains open;
             5) ordered that the Geneva Conventions are the “minimum
baseline” for treatment of any individuals detained in “any armed conflict”;
             6) ordered that the International Red Cross be given access
to all detainees;
     * Obama ordered the trial in Art III court of KSM and the other
captured 9/11 plotters — again, not his fault that they must be tried
in military commissions;
     * in March 2011 Obama issued an executive order directing that the
government comply with Art 75 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva
Conventions “out of a sense of legal obligation” — thereby
acknowledging the binding nature of international law in connection with
the detention of suspected terrorists — and urged Congress to ratify
Additional Protocol II;
      * the Obama administration revamped the military commission
procedures so that — although not as good as Art III courts — they are
much improved over the Bush versions;
     * in particular, evidence obtained by cruel, inhuman, or degrading
treatment is barred;
      * it appears that DOJ and DOD are pursuing and concluding military
commission plea bargains so that evidence in MC trials (such as the KSM
trial) will conform to Art III standards;
     * the President and Attorney General have repeatedly declared that
waterboarding is torture and is illegal (in stark contrast to Bush,
Cheney, and Yoo, who have gleefully affirmed torture as good policy); and
     * no prisoners have been transferred to Guantanamo and the
administration has repeatedly stated that none will be.”
Clearly, Professor Alexander has been following these matters far more closely than I have.
Now, I’ll be the first to acknowledge that being better than the Bush Administration on civil liberties is hardly a “get out of jail free” card. But this list did make me feel better.

Car Talk

When the federal government decided to bail out Chrysler and GM, I’ll admit I was torn. I am inherently skeptical of “too big to fail,” and I’m convinced that we have way too much corporate welfare. I’m a believer in free enterprise, defined as a genuinely level playing field, where private businesses all play by the same rules, and sink or swim on their own merits. But I also recognized that we were in the midst of a recession that might well have become a depression. The economy was so fragile–and the probable loss of American jobs that would accompany bankruptcy was so massive–that we really didn’t have a choice. I figured the taxpayers would lose a lot of money, but on balance, that would be cheaper than a depression.

I was wrong.

Yesterday, Chrysler repaid the nearly $5.9 billion lent to it by the administration, including fees and interest payments — and it did so six years ahead of schedule. Not only has Chrysler paid us back, but together, GM and Chrysler have added 115,000 new jobs since emerging from reorganization.

It was a gutsy call, and it paid off. But I’m sure the “Party of No” will explain it away, or credit the Bush Administration, just as they’ve tried to do with respect to another gutsy call–taking out Bin Ladin.