WASHINGTON (AP) — Students defrauded by for-profit colleges scored an important victory on Tuesday, when a court cleared the way for an Obama-era policy that will make it easier for them to get their student loans forgiven.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had said the regulation, known as borrower defense, made discharging loans too easy and was unfair to taxpayers. The rule was due to take effect in July 2017, but DeVos froze it while she worked on devising a new regulation.
But U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss ruled last month that DeVos’ delay was unlawful. On Tuesday, he denied a request by an organization representing for-profit colleges in California, to further postpone the rule, thus paving the way for borrower defense to enter into force.
“The rule is finally in effect. No more excuses. No more delays,” said Julie Murray, an attorney with Public Citizen, who is representing the defrauded students in their suit against DeVos.
Education Department spokeswoman Liz Hill said DeVos “respects the role of the court and accepts the court’s decision” and will soon provide information about how the regulation will be implemented.
But DeVos continues to regard the regulation as “bad policy” and will continue writing a new rule “that protects both borrowers and taxpayers,” Hill said in a statement Tuesday.
The ruling marks a significant setback for DeVos, who has made deregulating the for-profit college industry a top priority. The decision means that the Obama rule, which DeVos has fought hard to scrap, could be in effect until July 2020, when any new rule written by DeVos would enter into force.
Under the Obama rule, students whose school closed mid-program or shortly after completion, will become eligible for automatic loan discharge. The Century Foundation, a progressive think tank, estimates that Tuesday’s decision will affect tens of thousands of students at over 1,400 schools who will now be eligible for $400 million in automatic debt relief across the nation.
Other provisions in the rule allow students to apply for loan discharge as a group. It also prevents schools from forcing students to sign away their rights to sue the program and makes sure that the schools, not just tax payers, bear financial responsibility in case the schools end up shutting down.
Over 100,000 students who say they have been swindled by their schools are currently waiting for the Education Department to consider their applications for loan forgiveness. James Kvaal, president of the Institute for College Access and Success, said that the agency must immediately halt debt collections and wipe out the loans of those borrowers whose schools have been shut down.
“This is a major victory for students across this country in the ongoing battle against the Department of Education and the for-profit college industry,” said Toby Merrill, director of the Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard University that also took part in the lawsuit.
But Steve Gunderson, president of Career Education Colleges and Universities, the industry lobbying group, described Judge Moss’ ruling as “disappointing as it will only create further confusion for students and schools” and urged the Education Department to provide as much as guidance as possible while it finishes writing the new rule.
Gunderson added, “Many will look at this ruling where a Judge appointed by President Obama upholds a rule created by the Obama Department of Education and see further evidence of the politicization of our court system.”
The group, whose motion to delay the rule was denied Tuesday, the California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools, did not return a request for comment.
Trump’s Trade War Forces Volvo To Shift Gears In South Carolin
Volvo is a Chinese-owned Swedish company making cars in the U.S. When it decided to set up a plant in South Carolina to build cars to ship around the world, it was following a long tradition.
With its port, Charleston, S.C., has been a shipping hub for centuries. And the state has been home to international manufacturers for decades — BMW, Michelin and Bosch are among the many global firms with footholds there.
But before the plant opened last year, President Trump transformed America’s approach to trade policy.
Trump’s trade war with China has stretched for more than a year, and trade tensions remain high with Europe as well. Tariffs on steel and aluminum are pinching auto suppliers in the U.S., who face higher costs for raw materials to make parts. Meanwhile, tariffs on imported parts can cut into the budgets of automakers, who rely on thousands of different components from around the world to build each vehicle.
Volvo, owned by the Chinese firm Geely, intended to export many cars from the plant near Charleston to China, but the tit-for-tat tariffs between Beijing and Washington threw a wrench into those finely tuned plans. U.S.-made Volvos aren’t being sent to China after all.
“It’s kind of a disappointment, but we’re going to work through it,” says Trey Yonce, a supervisor at the plant, as he watches line workers assemble cars. “It wasn’t what we wanted to hear.”
But as Yonce notes, Volvo is adapting, not cutting back.
Analysts compare imposing tariffs to squeezing on a balloon. Put pressure in one spot and the global economy will shift to work around it.
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House Democrats give IRS until April 23 to hand over Trump’s tax returns
House Democrats have given the Internal Revenue Service a new deadline to hand over President Donald Trump’s tax returns days after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said his department would miss the original deadline of April 10.
In a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig sent Saturday by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., Democrats gave a second and final deadline of April 23 for six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns. The lawmakers could go to court to seek the returns if the IRS does not turn them over.
“To date, the IRS has failed to provide the requested return and return information despite an unambiguous legal obligation to do so … Please know that, if you fail to comply, your failure will be interpreted as a denial of my request,” Neal wrote in the letter.
The letter also states that there is “no valid basis to question the legitimacy of the Committee’s legislative purpose,” citing Supreme Court instructions that Congress’ power to investigate is “broad.”
“It is not the proper function of the IRS, Treasury, or Justice to question or second guess the motivations of the Committee or its reasonable determinations regarding its need for the requested tax returns and return information,” Neal wrote.
House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., notified his committee that he would be subpoenaing Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for the president’s financial statements. The subpoena is another avenue Democrats are pursuing to obtain Trump’s financial information.
In the memo, Cummings said he intended to issue the subpoena, which request documents between 2011 and 2018, on Monday.
The Ways and Means Committee first sent a formal request to the Treasury Department for Trump’s tax returns on April 3, giving the department a deadline of April 10 to produce the documents.
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Trump’s 9/11 post on Omar draws condemnation from Democrats
President Donald Trump tweeted a video featuring images of 9/11 in a political attack on Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. — prompting some Democrats to rebuke the president’s post.
The video that Trump posted on Friday spliced a statement Omar made about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks with footage of the Twin Towers in New York collapsing. It is captioned “WE WILL NEVER FORGET.”
Omar’s reference to the terrorist attacks came in a speech last month at an event hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Los Angeles. During the event, Omar spoke about how Muslim Americans’ were mistreated and their constitutional rights and freedoms were infringed on after the 9/11 attacks.
Within her remarks, Omar made a statement that her critics said glossed over that act of terror. Democrats contend, however, that the president’s video could incite violence.
“CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties,” she said in the speech last month.
CAIR was in fact founded in 1994, though its level of advocacy grew after 9/11.
It was the congresswoman’s wording that “some people did something” — repeated in the video tweeted by Trump — however, that Omar’s critics have seized upon.
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