April 14, 2015
hrckirkwood

VIDEO: In Iowa, Clinton Stresses Harms to Students From Predatory For-Profit Colleges

In keeping with the strong populist economics theme of her campaign rollout, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton today took aim at the predatory for-profit colleges whose overpriced, low-quality programs are ruining students’ lives. The former Secretary of State, participating in her first campaign event, an education roundtable discussion at Kirkwood Community College in Monticello, Iowa, said:

Some of the for-profit schools, some of the scandals that have arisen in these places where they take all this money and put all these young people and their families into debt. Even if they graduate they don’t have credentials that are going to get …

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April 5, 2015
Benjaminflo

Student Debt Strike? Read This Texas Mom’s Powerful Words

The 100-plus former students of for-profit Corinthian Colleges who have boldly asserted that they won’t pay back their student loans have garnered widespread attention and provided a powerful jolt to the debates about predatory colleges and our nation’s mounting student debt. A measure of the students’ impact is the meeting they were able to obtain last week to make their case to top officials of the U.S. Department of Education.

I hope these officials will listen — and act boldly themselves. The clock is running out on the Obama Administration’s efforts to curb the abuses of for-profit colleges, and while …

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November 10, 2014
whitehouse1

Obama Can Reform Dark Money with a Stroke of a Pen

There’s a powerful solution for disclosing the secret money sloshing around in our political system. It does not require an act of Congress or action from any of the effectively toothless campaign finance watchdogs, like the Federal Elections Commission. In fact, this solution could be passed in an instant and the only requirement for action is political will.

President Barack Obama can issue an executive order today that requires government contractors to disclose their dark money campaign contributions.

Why doesn’t he? And why don’t campaign finance reform organizations push for such a fix?

In 2011, following the first wave of undisclosed …

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February 12, 2013

Is Rubio’s Denial of Climate Change Tied to His Dependence on Koch Oil Money?

Tonight, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) will offer the rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union address.  This isn’t a casual designation: Top Republicans and outside commentators are hailing the young Senator as the very future of the GOP.

One issue where Rubio sharply contrasts with Obama is climate change. With record-high temperatures and devastating weather events inflicting hardship on millions of Americans, Obama made the need for urgent action on global warming a key component of his inaugural address last month:

We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children …

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August 31, 2012

On HuffPost: To Get Better Policies, Expose Corrupt Politics

Huffington Post published this piece by me yesterday, as part of its Shadow Conventions series:

To grasp the harms caused when money dominates politics, start with for-profit colleges. This industry tripled in size during the last decade, spurred by deceptive recruiting practices, after its lobbyists loosened federal rules aimed at protecting students and taxpayers from fraud. It has become a monster, a league of Wall Street corporations and private equity-owned firms that get 86 percent of their revenues — $32 billion a year — from taxpayers.

While some for-profit colleges are honest and work to educate their students, many charge sky-high …

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August 3, 2012
A portrait of Gore Vidal

What Gore Vidal Said About The Corrupting Influence Of Money In Our Politics

Earlier this week, celebrated author, playwright, and activist Gore Vidal passed away. “Mr Vidal was, at the end of his life, an Augustan figure who believed himself to be the last of a breed, and he was probably right,” editorialized the New York Times upon his death.

In 2000, Vidal authored the foreword to Money and Politics, a Boston Review New Democracy Forum published in book form by Beacon Press. This is what the legendary author noted about the cost of elections at that time:

Some nuts and bolts. Of the billions now spent each election cycle, most is donated …

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August 1, 2012

Georgia Voters Of Both Parties Revolt Against Corruption

Imagine if lobbyists could give virtually anything they wanted to lawmakers, ranging from a gift basket of cookies to a Mercedes Benz.

This isn’t some dark fairy tale. In Georgia, it’s reality. Lobbyists can give virtually whatever gift they want to lawmakers.

But in recent month, a rowdy coalition of tea partiers and progressives have been campaigning to place a modest cap on these gifts that lobbyists can give to legislators — $100 value per gift.

Last night, in the statewide primary election, voters in both parties overwhelmingly approved of non-binding ballot questions approving of such a lobbyist gift cap. Here’s a

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August 1, 2012

Former Army Captain Says If Hospitals Behaved Like For-Profit Colleges, Execs Would Be In Jail

At a press conference Monday, Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), flanked by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), unveiled a new report looking at the abuses against students by the for-profit college industry, which is largely subsidized by the taxpayer with few strings attached.

In recent months, abuses against veterans in particular have come to light. Thus one of the speakers at the event was the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America’s (IAVA) Tom Tarantino. Tarantino served 10 years in the U.S. Army, reached the rank of captain, and was awarded the Continue Reading »

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