Kline explains vote against for-profit regulations


U.S. Rep. John Kline (R) of Minnesota, who last week helped block the Education Department’s “gainful employment” proposal in the House, defended his position today on MPR’s Midday program.

Kline, who is the House education committee chairman, sponsored an amendment that blocked the proposal, which would have tied their eligibility for federal government student aid to the incomes and loan repayment rates of their graduates.

A caller asked him to rethink his support for for-profit colleges, which she said have “a predatory recruitment process” that focuses on “desperately needy people.” She said the students “end up with debt, and the taxpayer ends up paying (when they default.)”

Kline made this response (not quoted verbatim):

There’s no question that students across the board are taking on a lot of debt. It’s not just those at for-profit colleges.

Where there are predatory activities, those should be addressed. And there are laws right now that can address that. But the problem with the (proposed) regulations is that they address all for-proifts — even the beauty colleges in which graduates have jobs waiting for them.

For-profits have been very nimble in stepping up and meeting the demands of nontraditional students. For example, many of our nurses come out of for-profit colleges.

All students need more information. They need to understand the likelihood of job placement in their chosen fields, the cost of borrowing money, and so on.

But the regulations have been very hurtful and have already cost a lot of jobs.

There was a strong bipartisan vote. Congress thinks these regulations ought to be rewritten.

As I posted in September, Kline has accepted several thousand dollars in campaign contributions from sources related to the industry, according to data included in a report by the investigative reporting Web site ProPublica.

He was one of more than a dozen U.S. House members who have accepted industry contributions and signed letters opposing the regulations on for-profits..

Also, Bloomberg reported last week:

Kline got $56,500 from educators and their families’ last year, his fourth-biggest source of campaign contributions during his re-election campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group. For-profit colleges hired at least six former members of Congress, including Richard Gephardt, a Missouri Democrat and the former House majority leader, to lobby for them last year.