POLITICO: Obama dials up executive power

Career College Central Summary:

  • What do you do when you don’t have Congress? Keep the regulations coming.
  • The Obama administration is preparing another active year of executive action in 2015, pumping out new rules and enforcing others for the first time — setting tougher standards on everything from air pollution to overtime pay to net neutrality, food safety, commercial drones, a college ratings plan and a crackdown on for-profit colleges that don’t prepare their students for well-paying jobs. There’s even going to be the first draft of a rule for organic pet food.
  • And, of course, there will be more executive actions to move forward on other initiatives as well — like the new measures President Barack Obama is set to announce on Friday to help more people go to college.
  • The rules and regulations will set up more confrontation with a newly unified Republican Congress, which will use all of the tools at its disposal to try to stop individual policies and blast the Obama administration for being too rule-happy in general. The new rules will get merged, generally, with the GOP’s complaints about about Obama’s executive actions on immigration — their view that he’s a go-it-alone president who’s ready to fire off executive actions on whatever he wants without listening to Congress.
  • Most of the administration’s agenda for 2015 doesn’t rise to that level. It’s more about keeping the regular stream of regulations coming on initiatives that have been underway for years. But even that will give the Republicans plenty of ammunition — they’ll talk a lot about how, in their view, Obama is indifferent to the economic impact of all of his regulations.
  • “The president doesn’t seem to care about the impact of these regulations on families,” said John Barrasso of Wyoming, the chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, adding that the administration is showing “a complete neglect of the economic impact” of the load of new rules.
  • Not so, Obama administration officials say. They insist there are also lots of economic benefits to the rules, and they’re ready to fire back with numbers they say the Republicans aren’t considering. And they’re sticking with Obama’s script for moving his agenda forward: When you can’t do it through Congress, do what you can through the executive branch.
  • Here are the main areas to watch on policy in 2015:
  • Education: The biggest higher education issue will be the Obama administration’s controversial, still-vague proposal to rate more than 4,000 colleges and universities based on how many low-income students they have, how affordable they are, and how they do on outcome measures like graduation rates. Education Department officials recently released a “draft framework” of the plan that underwhelmed higher ed wonks due to its lack of specifics. Obama wants a fully explained ratings system by spring of next year, with institutional ratings published before the start of the 2015-16 academic year. There’s also a fight over the Education Department’s “gainful employment regulation,” which would crack down on for-profit colleges starting July 1 if they leave students with few job options and unlivable wages. The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities successfully sued over the administration’s first go at a rule in 2012, and says it’s even more confident that the latest iteration won’t hold up in court.

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