Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings' testimony before the House Committee on Education and Labor about the scandal-eaten student loan program followed the Bush administration official template: Complain about how hard your job is, Obfuscate and Deny.
In her case, she insisted that the Department of Ed was actually spearheading reform, despite ignoring her own Inspector General's request to reclaim $287 million that the Department of Ed improperly paid student lender Nelnet due to a loophole that remained open for over a decade, and despite claiming that all this stuff about inducements is news to her.
"Who was monitoring? Did they have blinders on?" thundered George Miller.
A friend of mine writes:
"Did you notice that Margaret Spellings said that Terri Shaw [the head of the office of Federal Student Aid, who resigned yesterday] isn't a political appointee? Lies. Lies. Lies. That was fun to watch. "
Really, it's more like she implied it. Anyway, whether or not someone's a political appointee is actually an empirical question. The Plum Book, an official Federal publication, lists " over 7,000 Federal civil service leadership and support positions in the legislative and executive branches of the Federal Government that may be subject to noncompetitive appointment, nationwide." Emphasis on noncompetitive.
Download the November 2004 book, and on page 50, you'll find former Sallie Mae exec Theresa S. Shaw.
The Sunshine Act passed yesterday, with its code of conduct for colleges, is only the beginning of meaningful reform. We need to address the relationships between lenders and the government, not just lenders and financial aid officers. From my point of view, the burden of proof is now on the student lenders to show that they can offer any value to make up, not only for the billions in extra subsidies they cost taxpayers, but for these egregious schemes and scandals.