I was sorry but not surprised to see in yesterday’s New York Times that:
Last year, the Obama administration vowed to stop for-profit colleges from luring students with false promises. In an opening volley that shook the $30 billion industry, officials proposed new restrictions to cut off the huge flow of federal aid to unfit programs.
But after a ferocious response that administration officials called one of the most intense they had seen, the Education Department produced a much-weakened final plan that almost certainly will have far less impact as it goes into effect next year.
The Obama Administration has put forward many good initiatives in the face of ferocious, well funded opposition. Horsetrading and compromise are part of that. At the same time, the Administration has also acquired a reputation for caving. I’m certainly not arguing that the President’s team should adopt a die hard, I shall not be moved, deny-deny-deny then obfuscate strategy. However, perception matters. Compromises need to be managed. If you are perceived to be weak, supporters become disheartened and critical, naysayers more intransigent.
I wonder how many of the President’s efforts will survive when he leaves office in 2012 or 2016.
The ability to maintain and develop things is more important than the ability to get them up and running in the first place. To use the football analogy, you need a good defense and a good offense.
This isn’t to say that wise measures will work indefinitely. FDR fought to separate Social Security funds from the general fund along with other rules to keep it safe politicians. He built one of the most successful programs in history. The very concept of Social Security has been under attack for some time. Remember the calls to privatize it? Now there’s a chance that it really will go away despite its success.
All this to say, that the price of freedom (and progress) remains eternal vigilance. Don’t be like American corporations. Think in terms of long term, sustainability and not short term viability.