President Obama on Friday signed an executive order that will help protect veterans from the deceptive practices of some for-profit colleges that seek to take advantage of them. The news was greeted with praise from veterans groups, who have "long felt that student veterans need to have the tools to succeed when it comes to their education."
The American Legion called it "an important victory on behalf of our young servicemembers and veterans who, in seeking to better themselves educationally, have been wrongly and unconscionably victimized by some institutions who see America's finest as nothing more than a vulnerable market."
Fox News, on the other hand, found a way to attack Obama over the action, saying the executive order was an "insult to the troops."
On The Five, co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle teased a segment on the story by saying: "You're not going to believe President Obama's latest insult to the troops." The segment turned out even worse than anticipated as co-hosts Eric Bolling, Andrea Tantaros, and Guilfoyle all tried to outdo each other in manufacturing outrage over Obama's order.
On the level of Obama derangement syndrome, this must take the cake.
After playing an excerpt from Obama's speech Friday at Fort Stewart, Bolling started the ball rolling by saying:
BOLLING: These heroic men and women do more for freedom, more for America in a day than you will ever do, sir. Don't insult them by talking about schools preying on them. They take live rounds. They deal with roadside bombs. They risk their lives, sir. They'll be OK with Dean Wermer. And by the way, how about you stop insulting Americans who see right through you while you deliver a left-wing campaign speech while pretending to give a damn about their service. And one more thing, quit using our military as a photo op. It's unbecoming of a commander in chief.
Tantaros, who readily agreed with everything Bolling said, added: "Eric, I have to tell you, if there is one group of Americans that you cannot swindle, you cannot buy off, you cannot do the candyman thing like he does with young voters and others; it's the U.S. military. They do not need the president promising them big things, promising them to fight for them -- the military -- they can handle it all on their own, and they cannot be bought like every other demographic he's trying to buy off with taxpayer dollars."
Guilfoyle concluded that Obama's order was not only "political pandering," it was also "disingenuous."
When co-host Greg Gutfeld expressed doubts that Obama was insulting the troops by putting an end to these predatory practices, Bolling interjected:
BOLLING: I think it's outrageous, Greg. I think it's absolutely outrageous that he would stand in front of the military and go, listen, I got your back on, you know, on schools trying to prey on you.
Tantaros later added that the order is "a political stunt," a "political gimmick."
In fact, as Stars & Stripes reported, the "order will limit college recruiters' access to military bases, develop a complaint system to track violations by schools, force colleges to provide graduation rates and student debt information, and crack down on institutions using the term 'GI Bill' in their veterans outreach efforts." The article continued:
The measure mirrors a host of bills pending before Congress but bypasses the legislative process, which has been mired in partisan discord for months. Privately, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have backed many of the ideas but said passing any legislation dealing with the problem was unlikely before November.
But officials said that action was needed sooner, to address a growing list of complaints by student veterans regarding unfulfilled promises and unexpected debt from colleges. They cited anecdotes of college recruiters -- particularly from for-profit schools -- signing up brain-injured troops for classes, forcing unneeded student loans on veterans, and promising career opportunities through worthless degree programs.
On Friday, veterans groups praised the executive order as an opportunity to quickly address the needs of student veterans.
"This is a great step forward, and we're happy to see the administration take action to help veterans," said Ryan Gallucci, deputy legislative director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. "We've long felt that student veterans need to have the tools to succeed when it comes to their education."
In a 2010 article on the "hazards of for-profit schools" for veterans, Bloomberg reported:
Since the post-9/11 GI Bill with expanded education benefits for returning soldiers took effect Aug. 1, 2009, for- profit colleges have snared $618 million, or 35 percent, of the almost $1.8 billion in tuition and fees spent by U.S. taxpayers, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The industry, which has tripled revenue in the past decade to almost $30 billion by taking advantage of federal loans and grants, is now targeting the more than 1.2 million war veterans deployed since 2001 in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their rich college grants.
While some veterans with families and jobs say online schools provide an opportunity for advanced education that they otherwise couldn't fit into their schedules, the swelling number of ex-soldiers at for-profit colleges is drawing scrutiny from the U.S. Senate education committee, which plans a hearing on the issue later this year. That's because these colleges, which typically charge higher tuitions than public institutions, have been criticized by federal officials and members of Congress for enrolling students who aren't academically ready and are more likely to default on their federal loans.
An undercover investigation by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, whose results were released in a report on Aug. 4, found that recruiters at for-profit colleges encouraged applicants to lie on federal financial aid forms and misled them by exaggerating graduation rates and potential salaries. The U.S. Department of Education is proposing regulations that would crack down on the practice of paying recruiters on the basis of the number of students they enroll.
In a September 2011 New York Times op-ed, Hollister Petraeus, who was appointed by Elizabeth Warren, founder of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to head the agency's Office of Servicemember Affairs (she is also Gen. David Petraeus' wife), described how military personnel and their families were "under siege" from for-profit colleges and how a "number of these schools focus on members of the armed forces with aggressive and often misleading marketing, and then provide little academic, administrative or counseling support once the students are enrolled." She went on to urge Congress and federal agencies to "redouble efforts to prevent aggressive and deceptive practices."
On April 26, in anticipation of Obama's signing, she wrote: "I applaud this effort to see that servicemembers, veterans, and their families get the most 'bang for their buck' when they use their educational benefits." Petraeus concluded:
It's in everyone's interest to see that military education dollars are well-spent. If they are, they will provide our country with educated veterans and family members who, like the World War II generation before them, can become the engine that drives our economy forward.