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.