Friday, July 29, 2011

Politifact: Walker's job claim is false!

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Politifact has analyzed Walker's fictitious job creation boast that Wisconsin created half the nation's new jobs in June and labeled it false.

The MJS analysis is linked here.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Walker denies jobs boast even as allies repeat it

Less than a week after Governor Scott Walker claimed that Wisconsin had created half the nation's new jobs, he has denied making the statement.

The Wausau Daily Herald reports"Walker said it was never his intention to draw a direct line between the Wisconsin total and the national total."

"We made it very clear at our announcement that (our number) was not half of all the jobs out there, though it is an interesting parallel," he said.

That's not what the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's economics reporter John Schmid reported. Schmid wrote of the Walker's announcement:

"Walker noted that job growth in Wisconsin effectively accounted for about half of the new jobs in the nation in June, an abysmal month for job creation.

The state had a net total of 9,500 new jobs in the month, because a decline in government employment offset some of the gains in the private sector. Nationally, Walker said, 18,000 new jobs were created last month - 57,000 gained in the private sector minus a drop of 39,000 in government payrolls.

"It's incredibly important to put that in perspective," Walker said. "To have 9,500 net new jobs in the state at a time when the country saw just 18,000 net new jobs all across the country is incredibly good news..."

While Walker may be denying his earlier statement, others are not. As Bill Cristofferson reported in his blog, conservative James Wigderson mounted a spirited, if convoluted, defense of Walker while attacking Christofferson and me for questioning Walker's numbers.

More importantly, Walker's claim has become the newest Republican talking point.

At a town hall meeting in Whitefish Bay, Congressman James Sensenbrenner bragged that Wisconsin had created half the nation's new jobs in June and attributed this to Walker's economic policies.

U.S. Senator Ron Johnson repeated Sensenbrenner's and Walker's boast on national TV as did Assembly Majority Leader Rep. Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, who bragged: "Accounting for more than half of the nationwide gain in June employment is a remarkable feat."

The same echo will will undoubtedly be heard in Madison over the next few weeks.

As I wrote earlier Walker used a misleading statistic to create a distorted perception of the state’s job creation record for overtly political purposes-promoting Walker and his economic program. 

Others have now picked up Walker's ball and are running with it. Rather than deny the truth about what he said, Walker ought to man up, admit he was wrong and actually do something to help the tens of thousands of Wisconsinites who are unemployed.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gov. Walker's victory dance misses the beat

Last week Governor Walker claimed that Wisconsin was responsible for half the nation’s monthly job growth.

Republican Party politicians and operatives have run with Walker’s numbers, arguing they prove that his program of corporate and investor tax cuts and reduced regulation is working.

Let’s put Walker’s jobs victory dance iin perspective.

Several states; Texas (+32,000), California (+28,800), Michigan (+18,000), Minnesota (+13,200) and Massachusetts (10,400) had more job growth than Wisconsin

Using the Bureau of Labor Statistics data Walker touted, Texas was responsible for almost 200% of net job growth in June, California 150%, Michigan 100%, Minnesota 65% and Massachusetts slightly more than 50% .Nor was Wisconsin’s monthly percentage increase among the nation’s largest. Alaska experienced the largest over-the-month percentage increase in employment (+1.7 percent), followed by North Dakota (+1.2 percent), Vermont (+0.9 percent), and South Dakota (+0.8 percent).

In fact, Wisconsin was one of only 9 states that reported statistically significant over-the-month unemployment rate increases in June.

South Carolina experienced the largest increase (+0.5 percentage point), followed by Alabama, Arkansas, and Illinois (+0.3 point each) and Maryland, Montana, North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin (+0.2 point each). The unemployment rate did not increase in 41 states.

 Wisconsin lost nearly 171,000 jobs during the Great recession. It has gained back 50,000 over the last year and a half, about 30%.

These numbers illustrate what a useless, misleading and politically motivated statistic Governor Walker and DWD used in claiming half the nation’s job growth.

It is useless, misleading and politically motivated because it creates a distorted perception of the state’s job creation record for overtly political purposes-promoting Walker and his economic program.

More importantly, there is ZERO evidence that Wisconsin’s June job growth has anything to do with anything that Governor Walker or the current legislature has done. Economists recognize that there are lags between the adoption of economic policy, its implementation and the policy’s impact. Given the reality of policy lags, there has simply not been enough time for Walker’s initiatives to have had the impact that the Walker administration claims.

The creation of 9,500 jobs is a positive development. But it hardly justifies the Governor’s jobs victory dance.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

For-Profit College CEOs Reap Rewards of Weak Regulation

In the six weeks since the Obama administration issued weaker-than-expected rules governing student debt at for-profit colleges, the University of Phoenix's founder and executive board chairman has cashed out more than $59 million of the school's parent company’s stock, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company's share prices on Wall Street have climbed to the highest levels in more than six months.

John G. Sperling's sale of 1.8 million shares comes as the stocks at many for-profit college companies have surged in the wake of the Department of Education's issuance of "gainful employment" rules, which the for-profit college industry had been aggressively fighting for more than a year.

And Sperling isn't alone. Donald Graham, the main stakeholder in Kaplan University, reaped a gain of $12.5 million over the last month. Andrew Clark, the CEO of Bridgepoint Education, made a $2.5 million profit on his stock holdings. Dennis Keller of Devry University made $27.6 million.

In total, the CEOs of the 15 publicly traded American for-profit colleges have collected $2 billion from selling company stock over the last seven years.
Many for-profit schools have been shown to aggressively recruit low-income and minority studentsin some cases providing false information about accreditation and the prospects for salary and job opportunities after graduationraising the question of whether the recent gains of for-profit CEOs like Sperling are being made on the backs of the most vulnerable students.

As enrollments at for-profit colleges have swelled over the past decade, along with the federal financial aid dollars that deliver as much as 90 percent of their revenues, scrutiny has intensified on students' outcomes. Hundreds of thousands of students at for-profit colleges have emerged with enormous debts and meager job prospects, resulting in a disproportionate share of student loan defaults at for-profit colleges.

The Obama administration's new rules were expected to rein in schools that aggressively recruited students but did little for their academic and employment outcomes once they were in the door. Many industry executives and Wall Street investors anticipated stricter rules that could have barred certain underperforming programs from accessing lucrative federal student aid dollars.

Beginning last summer, when the Department of Education released a draft version of the regulations, stocks at the Apollo Group, the University of Phoenix's parent company, and many other higher education corporations began to tumble. But the resulting rules essentially gave the industry carte blanche to continue as usual, taking a more lenient approach that gives schools an additional three years to come into federal student aid compliance. One former Department of Education official said the administration "caved in" to the industry’s pressure.

The market certainly signaled that the rules changed little, as stocks at many of those schools' parent companies soared and have remained strong ever since.

The weakening of the rules came after an extensive yearlong battle in Washington waged by the for-profit college industry that included substantial lobbying and campaign finance money from the Apollo Group and Sperling himself.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

18 State Attorneys General Investigating For-Profit Colleges

The Kentucky News Democrat & Leader recently published an op-ed by the Attorney General of Kentucky, Jack Conway, in which he discusses his investigation into seven for-profit colleges.

State investigations have picked up speed in the past several months. 18 states are now engaged in a joint effort, led by Conway, to examine industry abuses. (Earlier this year, news reports said that eleven state attorneys general were part of this effort, so it clearly is growing.) That is an encouraging development in the face of continued industry opposition to accountability.

Since the investigation began late last year, Conway’s efforts have, unsurprisingly, been met with opposition by the for-profit schools in the state, which have likened his investigation to “an assault.”

“Quite frankly, the industry’s response to our investigation has been very disappointing,” says Conway. “For-profit schools should acknowledge and work to correct the well-documented issues involving high student loan default rates, overaggressive recruiting practices, misleading advertising and high student withdrawal rates.”

Despite the somewhat diluted nature of the final gainful employment rule issued by the Department of Education in early June, opponents of gainful employment have not let up their fight. Just last week, the House Subcommittee on Education and Workforce Training held a hearing not-so-subtly titled “The Gainful Employment Regulation: Limiting Job Growth and Student Choice."The hearing, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC saw testimony from several witnesses, including head of the National Black Chamber of Commerce Harry Alford – who called the gainful employment rule ‘racial’ and ‘evil’ in an op-ed last week – Dr. Dario A. Cortes, the President of New York for-profit Berkeley College, and student Karla Carpenter, who appeared in an advertisement for the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) one of the biggest opponents of reform.

For-profit colleges spent millions of dollars on advertising and high-powered lobbyists in an attempt to weaken or squash outright the gainful employment regulations. It remains to be seen how much more money and manpower they will pour into such efforts in the coming months. 

The information in this blog came from a post by Katie Andriulli/ Campus Progress.Org, July 11, 2011.
Katie is the Communications and Outreach Manager for Campus Progress.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dollars for Afghanistan; pink slips for Americans

The New York Times  writes:

All across America, school budgets are being cut, teachers laid off and education programs dismantled...

And he asks: How is it that we can afford to double our military budget since 9/11, can afford the carried-interest tax loophole for billionaires, can afford billions of dollars in givebacks to oil and gas companies, yet can’t afford to invest in our kids’ futures?

Sometimes I hear people endorse education cuts by arguing that “school isn’t for everybody,” which usually means something like “education isn’t for other people’s children” — or that farm kids in places like Yamhill really don’t need schools that double as rocket ships. I can’t think of any view that is more un-American.

The column is linked here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Technical education faces federal funding cuts

The New York Times reports that federal funding for technical education is on the chopping block as the Obama administration focuses education policy on increasing the number of four-year college graduates.

This is a disturbing development because:

  • 70% of all new jobs will require some post-secondary education, but not a four-year degree;
  • four year colleges and universities are increasingly becoming too expensive for low and moderate income students;
  • many students find technical colleges' hands-on education better suited to their learning styles;
  • as baby boomer retire there will be a shortage of middle skills workers, the very skilled and technical workers that technical colleges produce and business and industry needs;
  • as public technical colleges reduce programs in response to budget cuts, students will gravitate to the highly exploitative for-profit college sector.
The New York Times article is linked here.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Republicans twiddle their thumbs while the unemployed lose their benefits

Milwaukee's Democratic legislators have written a letter asking the legislature's majority leaders to call a special session to enact legalisation enabling Wisconsin to secure $89 million in federal extended unemployment benefits.

10,000 unemployed workers in the state have run out of unemployment insurance benefits because of the legislature's failure to act.

Two weeks ago the New York Times wrote that Wisconsin and Arizona were among a handful of states that were refusing to accept federal aid for "ideological reasons." A Wisconsin Manufacturer's and Commerce (WMC) spokesman claimed that the extended benefits were unnecessary and discouraged the unemployed  from seeking work.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel followed up the Times' expose with a front page article that reported that Governor Walker supported extending the benefits, but did think they would create jobs, an unsubstantiated declaration that contradicts economic research that concludes extending unemployment benefits is among the strongest job creating policies governments can implement.

Following a demonstration in front of her legislative office earlier this week, State Senator Alberta Darling, co-chair of the powerful joint finance committee, claimed that she supported taking the money and assisting the unemployed.

Yet neither Darling, the Fitzgerald brothers nor Governor Walker have taken any steps to secure the $89 million that would not cost the state a single penny.

Their lack of urgency stands in sharp contrast to their actions immediately after Walker assumed office when they convened a special session to enact approximately $140 million in tax breaks for corporations and investors..

The failure of Darling, Walker and the Fitzgeralds to act is an outrage and immoral.

More than 10,000 hard-working, tax-paying Wisconsinites who lost their jobs through no fault of their own have run out of benefits. Many have lost their homes or are at risk of losing them. Others have been forced to drop out of school diminishing their hope for reemployment through retraining.

Wisconsin has a jobs shortage. Nationally there are 4.6 job seekers for every job.

It is time for Darling, Walker and the GOP to put up or shut up.

Call a special session immediately or justify your refusal to accept the federal money to the public and the state's unemployed.