Thursday, April 16, 2009

Buck McKeon-- Still Selling Out Education Policy To His Corrupt Campaign Donors


McKeon with Boehner-- 2 faces of corruption in educational lending

I had never realized student lending was a political issue until Blue America got involved in the congressional race in CA-25 (Barstow, Victorville, Santa Clarita), when young progressive idealist Robert Rodriguez challenged corrupt Mormon reactionary Buck McKeon, long one of the most vile and contemptible members of the United States Congress. The good news in 2006 was that Republicans lost their congressional majorities, which ended the committee chairmanships for crooked hacks like McKeon. The bad news was that McKeon still won his own remote district with 60% of the vote (a margin that shrunk a bit in November).

McKeon took a great deal of money from the banksters ($1,015,098 from the financial/insurance/real estate sector in return for his lockstep approval of all the deregulation bills that allowed the sector to loot and plunder the American people since he was first elected in 1992). Even with one of the worst foreclosure rates in hard-hit California (14,898 foreclosures in CA-25), McKeon still voted against allowing bankruptcy judges to change the terms of mortgages. In fact, he's been a 100% obstructionist and has voted against everything President Obama has tried to accomplish to ameliorate the effects of the economic collapse that McKeon and his cronies in Congress brought on with their wrong-headed policies, policies meant to serve the needs of their wealthy, powerful campaign donors.

But McKeon's particular piece of the pie was in setting the Republican policies on the House Education Committee he chaired-- the primary source of the bribes that have financed his disgraceful career in politics. How much damage has he done? Almost immeasurable-- and he's still trying to do more. When President Obama proposed $85 billion in student loans go directly to students, cutting out the finance industry middlemen (McKeon's campaign donors), McKeon went ballistic. Like all the hypocritical wingnuts who scream and moan about government spending too much, if government tries saving money by cutting out corrupt contractors and middlemen, he really gets serious. He's taken in over $500,000 from the crooks in this useless and dysfunctional bureaucracy and he has no intention of sitting back and watching Obama destroy it-- regardless of how much money it saves the taxpayers ($47.5 billion over the next ten years) and no matter how much more money we get going directly into education.

Today's NY Times features an editorial called The Battle Over Student Lending and it never mentions Buck McKeon, although he is the primary culprit in the problems the Times is ringing the alarm bell over. They warn that "Congress" (meaning corrupt members like McKeon) are opposing Obama's proposal eliminate federal subsidies to McKeon's campaign contributors by "phasing out the portion of the student-loan program that relies on private lenders. At the same time, it expands the more efficient and less expensive portion of the program that allows students to borrow directly from the federal government through their colleges."
Private companies that reap undeserved profits from the federal student-loan program are gearing up to kill a White House plan that would get them off the dole and redirect the savings to federal scholarships for the needy. Instead of knuckling under to the powerful lending lobby, as it has so often done in the past, Congress needs to finally put the taxpayers’ interests first.

...This would not in fact “grow government,” as conservatives in Congress have already begun to charge. The loans would be handled through colleges, just the way Pell Grants are now. The loans would then be serviced and collected by private companies that are already competing for this lucrative business.

Forcing service companies to compete permits the government to get the best possible deal for the taxpayers. The service contracts would be periodically re-evaluated, based on how well the companies treated their customers and how successful they were at preventing borrowers from defaulting.

The new program would, of course, trim the bottom lines of some corporations, but it would not create enormous job losses, as some critics are suggesting. The work force needed to service, say, $100 billion in student loans must surely be comparable in size to the work force needed to lend the same amount. Beyond that, government rules forbidding foreign nationals from handling federal assets would ensure that the servicing jobs were not shipped abroad.

The direct-lending proposal is clearly in the country’s best interest. But it will have a tough time in a Congress that has been historically more interested in pleasing the lending lobby than in looking out for families struggling to educate their children.

This surely presages the coming far more bloody battle over healthcare which will once again pit corrupt congressmen, most Republicans and Blue Dogs, trying to protect their bureaucratic bribers who add exactly nothing to actual "health care" but gobble up billions and billions of dollars shuffling paperwork and getting in the way, against the American people.

I doubt eminent Emory University neuroscientist and author, Drew Westen has ever heard of Buck McKeon, but his explanation today of why the Republican Party is coming apart at the seams sounds like a perfect description of ole Buck: "When you get caught gutting the regulations that had kept us for 70 years from another stock market crash like the crash of 1929 and another collapse of the banking system like the one that occurred during the Great Depression, and when your policies throw millions of people out of their homes, jobs, retirement, and doctors' offices, the next bottle of elixir you sell is not likely to fly off the shelf, especially if it's the same whine in a new deCantor."

Last November most voters in McKeon's district voted for President Obama and for his program of Change. In 2004 Bush carried CA-25 with 59%. McCain only snagged 48%. The Democratic Party needs to find a candidate who can close the deal and make the voters there in the high desert understand that if they want Obama to be able to rescue the economy, they can't keep sending a corrupt viper back to Washington whose only agenda is allowing his campaign donors to continue plundering it.

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