So who is Sallie Mae looking toward in the Senate to help them kill student loan reform?  Well, these are the Senators who have received money from Sallie Mae in this election cycle:

Michael Bennet
Barbara Boxer
Richard Burr
Tom Carper
Jim DeMint
Chris Dodd
Diane Feinstein
Kirsten Gillibrand
Patrick Leahy
Blanche Linclon
Robert Menendez
Barbara Mikulski
Patty Murray
Ben Nelson
Orrin Hatch
Pat Roberts
Chuck Schumer
Jeanne Shaheen
Richard Shelby
Arlen Specter
Debbie Stabenow
Mark Warner
Sheldon Whitehouse
Ron Wyden

Of course, this is only a small part of a much larger effort to influence folks on the Hill. And just because someone takes a donation doesn’t mean that they’re going to support Sallie Mae’s agenda whole-hog. But it does mean that when the details of any deal are being hammered out, any time Sallie Mae wants to push one element a bit they’ve got a friendly ear, and most people will never know.

These efforts are often pooh-pooed as “incrementalism” by all-or-nothing activists when progressives try to execute the same tactic, a serious limitation for any populist-fueled effort. But they’re the way that lobbyists make sure that they are always advancing the ball toward their ultimate goal.

There’s no reason why $87 billion is going to middle men like Sallie Mae rather than students themselves. It’s great that the industry creates 35,000 jobs. If that’s what we want to do, create jobs, then we should create jobs. We shouldn’t guarantee the profitability of yet another¬† company that privatizes profits and socializes losses.