February 6, 2013

Rep. Foxx Invokes Holocaust in Describing Obama Rules That Affect Her For-Profit College Donors


Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) yesterday paraphrased a well-known quote about the Holocaust to describe the Obama Administration’s regulation of for-profit colleges. Foxx, who has staunchly defended the for-profit college industry despite its blatant record of abusing students and ripping off taxpayers, apparently didn’t mention in her remarks that she is one of Congress’s biggest recipients of campaign cash from that industry.

Inside Higher Ed reports that Foxx, speaking to the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities on Tuesday, suggested to the leaders of those private, non-profit colleges that they should have actively opposed new rules proposed by the Obama Administration to govern for-profit colleges and career training schools.

Foxx invoked the words of  German theologian Martin Niemöller about his fellow countrymen who repeatedly failed to oppose Nazi abuses — “First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a communist.” “‘They came for the for-profits, and I didn’t speak up,'” Foxx told the audience.

The Obama Administration proposed a series of rules to hold for-profit colleges accountable for deceptive recruiting, low-quality programs, and high prices that have left many students with insurmountable debt.

The industry in recent years has received as much as $33 billion a year in taxpayer funds, but it accounts for nearly half of all student loan defaults. Foxx has harshly blamed students, rather than high-priced programs, for their educational debt.

Aggressive, expensive lobbying and lawyering by for-profit colleges has helped water down and delay the Obama rules. Heavy campaign contributions from the sector to Congress may have helped make their arguments more persuasive on Capitol Hill.  Republic Report has documented the close connections between the industry and the House GOP leadership.

Two of the Foxx’s three top donors in the last election cycle were the political action committee of APSCU, the for-profit colleges’ main trade association ($10,000), and Bridgepoint Education ($9,000), whose record is so bad that Senator Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, has called the institution “a scam.”  In her first year as chair of the House subcommittee addressing higher education, Foxx received at least $48,668 from people or PACs associated with for-profit colleges.

Asked by Inside Higher Ed if Rep. Foxx was suggesting that the Obama regulations were comparable to the Holocaust, her spokeswoman, Ericka Perryman, said, “Of course not.”