Rep. Virginia Foxx is a remarkable idiot from North Carolina whom our national political system has rewarded with vast power. As head of the House Education and Workforce subcommittee, she’s the House’s point-person on various important higher education issues of the day: exploding student debt loads, oversight of for-profit colleges, the funding of Pell Grants, and more. But back to that part about her being a remarkable idiot: here’s what she thinks about those “college students,” one of the large demographics that her committee exists to serve:
“I have very little tolerance for people who tell me that they graduate with $200,000 of debt or even $80,000 of debt because there’s no reason for that,” Foxx continued. “We live in an opportunity society and people are forgetting that. I remind folks all the time that the Declaration of Independence says ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ You don’t sit on your butt and have it dumped in your lap.”
Foxx also noted that when she went to college, back in 19-diggity-two, she never took out one dime in loans over the seven years it took her to learn nothing and graduate. So yes, you’re right, we do in fact have a leader of a House education committee who is not aware of exponential rise in higher education costs over the last 20 years, which, along with exponentially rising health care costs and exponentially rising mortgage/rent payments, are the three most visible threats to our viability as an “opportunity society” that doesn’t randomly fuck people over with hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, at birth, for the crime of trying to secure basic modern needs.
You know what happened in the last several decades, Virginia Foxx? The last several decades happened:
That’s right, Virginia Foxx paid $87.50 in tuition. That was the price of a full semester’s tuition at UNC in 1961. The Chair of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training is completely out of touch with the very different realities facing today’s students.
To be fair, prices have gone up a lot since 1961. If you take that $87.50 and adjust it for inflation, the actual dollar amount is a whopping $671.30 per semester. Including tuition and fees, Representative Foxx would have paid $279 for the academic year—about $2,140 today. That’s about equivalent to what students pay right now at community colleges, not public four-year institutions—especially not public flagships.
The other thing about Virginia Foxx is that she is personally responsible for so much of the student debt problem in this country. She’s taken tens of thousands from the for-profit college industry in recent cycles and helped their lobbyists water-down or block the basic regulations the Obama administration has tried to put in place. She is the main legislator helping these crooks loot the federal government and saddle poor people with massive debts incommensurate with the value of their degrees. From OpenSecrets:
First of all, Foxx’s opinion on student loans does matter — she’s a member of the House’s Education and Workforce Committee and chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training. It’s not one of the powerhouse committees known for helping its members attract a lot of campaign cash, but since Foxx was named committee chair in January 2011, she has become a magnet for campaign contributions from for-profit universities – a recent hot topic on the Hill.
Last year a Senate investigation found that nearly one-quarter of students at for-profit schools end up defaulting on student loans, and half of defaults on all student loans are by students at for-profit schools. At the time there was a lot of noise about possibly rewriting rules for how these for-profit schools can operate because so many of their students rely on federal grants or student loans – until a big lobbying push by the industry seemed to quiet things down.
In her first year on the subcommittee, Foxx picked up at least $48,668 from PACs or individuals affiliated with for-profit colleges. We counted 22 companies or trade associations in the for-profit college industry on the list of her top contributors, including: Bridgepoint Education, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, the Apollo Group (which owns the University of Phoenix) and student loan lender NelNet Inc.
She is an embarrassment, like all the others.