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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Cong. John Kline: Defender Of The For-Profit Student Debt Mills

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 11/23/13 11:18, Edited: 11/23/13 11:19

by Dave Mindeman

As MinnPost continues its series on student loan abuse by for-profit colleges, John Kline continues to defend these institutions of debt production.

Despite strong criticism from many students, U.S. senators and President Barack Obama, the for-profits have staunch defenders in Congress, led by Minnesota Republican Rep. John Kline. Powerful lobbying groups from both sides have weighed in on the debate, and large sums of campaign donations are at play.

"Led by MN Republican John Kline..." There lies the reason that this problem continues.

The Senate has tried to address this....

On the federal level, bills that would restrict some controversial for-profit practices have been proposed in the Senate. One, introduced by Democratic Sens. Tom Harkin of Iowa and Kay Hagan of North Carolina, would prohibit the use of Pell Grants, federal student loans, the post-911 GI Bill and other federal education funds for advertising, marketing and recruitment. Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota is a co-sponsor.

These for-profit debt mills use student loan money to promote their institutions like a used car. Short of facts and long on exaggeration, they target vulnerable students trying to brighten their future and bring them into a system that takes their money and leaves them unemployed.

The Senate has tried to stop that. But guess who thwarts the effort?

A bill that some say is at odds with the Senate bill has been proposed by Minnesota Rep. John Kline, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The bill would repeal regulations requiring colleges to meet benchmarks related to repayment of student loans and debt-to-income ratios of former students in order to qualify for federal aid, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Yes, Kline thinks it is an undue burden to meet even basic benchmarks that account for these for-profits use of Federal student loan money. In a system rife with abuse, he want them to have more access.

And yes, we know why this is happening...

All told, Kline received more than $100,000 in political donations from companies, employees and political action committees associated with for-profit colleges between April 1 and June 30 of 2013, according to FEC records. During the 2012 election, Kline was the House's top receiver of political donations from the for-profit education sector, taking in $209,609, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Kline's office did not comment on his political donations .

No comment, indeed.

I think it is time that the 2nd District voters have a comment... next November.
comments (0) permalink

Mills In 8th District: Four Pillars of Discontent

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 11/10/13 01:22

by Dave Mindeman

I was kind of going to just let this slide by, but nawww...can't do that.

Re: The "pillar" candidate for the GOP 8th District nomination..Stuart Mills.

Mills did an interview with Minnpost and outlined the 4 Pillars of his campaign. It's worth noting.

1. Obamacare. Hmmm...are you for it or against it? No explanation because I guess he assumes it is obvious to us. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that the first pillar is "Criticism of Obamacare"....because #1, he obviously isn't supporting the legislation and #2, he obviously has no other healthplan to offer. So....criticism it is.

2. Main Street Tax Policy From Ground Up. It is always amusing that income money is a trickle down type thing, but tax policy is "from ground, up". Funny how Republicans work that...because its true. Tax policy means taxes should affect the poor first and income should go to the rich first. Only fair - Mills gets that one....he started at the top and can watch that flow from the right vantage point.

3. Respect For The Constitution. And, of course, by respect for the Constitution, we mean GUNS. It's worth quoting him....

Certainly I'm a hunter, I'm somebody who uses firearms recreationally, I'm a shooter, I shoot competitively, that is my golf. I know how guns work.

It takes some chutzpah to use golf as a gun analogy. Golf = quiet, peaceful, serene. GUNS = Blam, blam, blam. Real similar stuff. And it is comforting to hear him say that he "knows how guns work". I suppose he would - his company sells enough of them.

Really, I still do not understand how guns are in any kind of "jeopardy". Certainly not threatened enough to make them a campaign issue. Nolan isn't discussing gun control and doesn't intend to put it on the table. But then Mills is like a lot of gun rights egotists....you make it an issue anyway.

4. National Debt. I wonder if Mills will discuss how the deficit has been decreasing....in fact, it is on track to be the lowest in 5 years. And yes, I know that is different from the national debt. But no Republican ever talks about the real fact that Clinton had us positioned to eliminate the national debt - yes eliminate it- within 5 to 10 years if we had stayed with the policies in place. Unfortunately, "W" had to roll in a massive tax cut that started us down the path of debt once more. Mills can talk about it, but as for solutions, he really doesn't have one. Spending cuts alone will never fix it - never.

Then the interview asked him about the government shutdown.....

MP: How would you have voted on the final bill ending the government shutdown?

SM: I'm not in Washington and I'm not privy to their conversations. I can neither commend nor condemn the votes that they've made because I just don't have access to the strategies or the back-end.

There is such a divisive culture in Washington DC that it would have not been necessary to shut down the government if people were able to come together, put their cards on the table. When you take a look at what the Republicans were asking for, some of this, in hindsight, wasn't unreasonable.


What a gutless cop out.

Oh...he wan't privy to their conversations? You didn't have to hear the behind the doors talk to see the full picture. C'mon Mills - you want the Tea Party people to stick with you, but you know that shutdown strategy was a waste. Pick a side, dude.

Then he was asked about the debt ceiling....

MP: Would you attach any conditions to voting to raise the federal debt limit?

Here we go.

First of all, the United States of America has to pay its bills. As we go forward, we have to tie the increases of the debt limit to solid spending cuts, things that are unnecessary.....So, in a nutshell, yes, anything that we do, budget-wise, has to be tied to spending cuts because our current trajectory is not sustainable.

So, in a nutshell....YES.

When asked about the FARM Bill and the SNAP program, he said....

As far as food stamps or SNAP is concerned, we have to make sure we preserve our social safety net and we wring out any fraud, waste or abuse that is in the program.

Translation - More cuts to SNAP in the Mills world.

They went back to the ACA and asked the all important question - What's the alternative?

I wouldn't scrap health reform altogether. As a matter of fact, I'm for health reform, but I'm for health reform that is going to take us in a different direction that's going to increase the supply of medical services, that's going to reduce the demand through prevention and making our population healthier and that's actually going to make the delivery more efficient.

In other words, I haven't got a clue - I'm anti-Obamacare.

Then there's his position on climate change.....

I really don't (have one). I'm open-minded on climate change, but I'm open-minded to both sides of the debate.

Sorry - there isn't two sides here. You either believe science or you ignore it. If you are open to ignoring it....then you ignore it.

Mills hasn't got much of a plan. He's just regurgitating the national talking points and trying to rally the fringe elements.

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of this type of politics. Fringe politics. Single interest politics. Mills is going to dump some of his own money to push yet another extreme agenda that taxes our patience rather than our money.

How about a plan to really fix things - not just rile up up discontent.
comments (2) permalink

SNAP - Yet Another Subsidy For Big Corporations

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 10/29/13 10:12

by Dave Mindeman

The House Republicans want to make food stamp (or SNAP) spending an issue. They still want us to believe that these are the "welfare" cheaters... people who are on the government dole.

They single this out as the example of where government waste is rampant. Not in oil company subsidies (where Exxon pays no taxes on billions in profits) or agricultural subsidies (where corporate farms take hundreds of thousands of dollars for summer fallow). No, the House Republicans think that SNAP is the "spending" problem they need to deal with.

Let's look at the 2nd District. In Scott and Dakota counties, SNAP recipients have doubled over the last 5 years. And while the 2nd District has the lowest number of actual recipients of the 8 Congressional districts, it has the highest percentage of families with children under 18 years involved (60.1%).

And what is really shocking is that the median income of SNAP recipients is the 2nd highest of the 8 districts at $19,285....and even more shocking is that 36.9% of those families have 2 or more people WORKING! That is also the highest percentage of any of the 8 Minnesota districts.

Is John Kline aware? Does he even care?

The food stamp program is not welfare run amuck -- it is a symptom of a growing problem. Wages are not keeping above the poverty line. We are working harder and simply getting less (in real usable dollars) for it. As Walmart and Target and the fast food industry rake in record profits and higher and higher stock prices, the people who do the work are needing more and more public assistance.

There is the real government waste. The taxpayers are subsidizing the low wage culture of big profit companies. You and I furnish the health care and the supplemental incomes for people who are working - working hard and long.

Kline can condescend about "welfare waste" all he wants - but if he would only look deeper into his own district, he would know where the real problem lies.

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