On every TV channel, commercials for schools like DeVry and the University of Phoenix blare promises of better-paying jobs. Every year over a million Americans respond to these sales pitches. All too often these students receive tens of thousands of dollars in debt and very little else. The Department of Education was expected last week to release new "gainful employment" regulations that would limit the ability of such for-profit colleges to charge exorbitant prices for illusory job gains. Now it seems that the Obama administration is wavering in the face of aggressive industry lobbying. For-profit education is big business in America, and big business means political clout.
According to a story in the Washington Post by Mike Konczal, the Big Banks have just created an astroturf or cashroots group called the "Consumers Against Retail Discrimination Alliance" to fight a provision of the financial reform bill: This nominal "consumers" group is constituted of really, really big "consumers," according to Konczal, including "Visa, MasterCard, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, U.S. Bank, Citi" and almost every banking association that is part of the more accurately named "Electronic Payments Coalition." They have attempted to label this a corporate "civil rights" issue by talking about "discrimination" -- or "retail discrimination," that is.
A member of the Helena, Montana, chapter of the Coalition for Chemical Safety, a chemical industry front group, has been disavowed for calling for an all-out ban of the use of BPA, an additive in many plastic products. Richard Denison, a senior scientist with Environmental Defense Fund, noted that the woman was interviewed on Montana Public Radio’s Evening Edition.
The Employment Policies Institute (EPI), a front group created by veteran lobbyist Richard Berman, is planning an advertising blitz claiming that healthcare reform is too costly. The ads will run in Nebraska, North Dakota, Arkansas, Louisiana, Connecticut and Maine. “We’re putting some serious money behind it,” said Berman.