Remember the board game Trouble? The one where you pushed the plastic Pop-o-Matic bubble in the center of the board, watched the die crash together, and hoped for a number that would allow you to knock your opponent's piece back to start? Well, politics is kind of like Trouble. Everyone wants to win at someone else's expense and this week, it's all about the Benjamins for Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) and Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), who are both up for reelection in 2014.
Both Foxx and Kline have recently authored a bill aimed at preventing the Department of Education from regulating for-profit colleges but a USA Today report out this week claims that both Foxx and Kline have received campaign contributions from for-profit colleges.
If we're being honest, we know that you can't win the game of politics without money. An average seat in the U.S. Senate costs $10.5 million and an average House seat costs $1.7 million. If we're still being honest, we also know that at times, some candidates receive money from lobbyists and companies. If this is surprising, you should really start watching House of Cards.
It's completely possible that Reps. Foxx and Kline genuinely believe that for-profit colleges should't be subject to regulation but the evidence doesn't bode well in their favor. For-profit colleges have routinely been accused of fraudulent activity and account for 47% of student loan defaults despite the fact that these schools only enroll 13% of students seeking higher education. It would make sense that investigations into the quality of education offered by these colleges would lead to calls for tighter oversight, something their bill vehemently objects.
It appears the I'll-scratch-your-back-if-you-scratch-mine culture in politics oscillates disproportionately between personal gain and public service. Candidates accept money, may develop legislation in favor of whoever gave that money, and neglect their public responsibility to the greater majority, thus ignoring the real issues and catering only to those who have stuffed their pockets. What about us, the general public, who can't afford to buy out politicians in favor of what we want or need?
While it's unclear whether for-profit colleges can expect tighter regulations in the future, one thing is for certain— two congressional leaders are thousands of dollars closer to filling their seats in 2014.