Betsy Devos Just Put A For-Profit Credit Card Exec In Charge Of Federal Student Aid Program

On Tuesday, Education Secretary Betsy Devos announced that she will appoint A. Wayne Johnson as the as Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid on Thursday. In the press release put out by the Education Department, Devos cited Johnson’s academic and professional achievements as Johnson’s skills he is bringing to the department.<

FSA currently serves 42 million student loan borrowing clients and administers more than $1.4 trillion in current outstanding Federal Student Loan balances.

Reuters reports on the story saying:

“In last year’s election, Donald Trump and other Republicans campaigned on “getting government out of the business of student loans.” Democrats want to stay on the path forged by former President Barack Obama, who moved student lending from the banks to the federal government.

DeVos has taken on higher-education finances since being confirmed in February. She recently began rewriting rules on for-profit college debt and decided to put one company in charge of servicing loans.”

“Wayne is the right person to modernize FSA for the 21st Century,” said Secretary DeVos in a press release. “He actually wrote the book on student loan debt and will bring a unique combination of CEO-level operating skills and an in-depth understanding of the needs and issues associated with student loan borrowers and their families.”

Wayne has worked previously in executive positions at TSYS, First Data, and VISA. He is also the founder and former CEO of First Performance Corporation. Wayne’s corporate background has attracted the ire of financial sector watch groups. Allied Progress, a left-leaning anti-Wall St watch group says that Wayne will implement “policies that increase the odds students will default on their loans.”

This announcement comes just one month after Obama-appointed FSA CEO, James Runcie, resigned from his position as Education Secretary. When he resigned Runcie cited he could not take “the risk” of working in a department ran by Devos. Runcie also claimed that he could not accept Devos’ policies that were redirecting critical funds within the department.

“I cannot in good conscience continue to be accountable as Chief Operating Officer given the risk associated with the current environment at the [Education] Department,” reads the resignation memo Runcie put out in May.

This move is a continuation of the corporatization of the federal government that has been seen under the Trump administration. Devos herself has no actual background in education. Yet, she is Education Secretary because she allowed Trump to use her family’s arena multiple times, for free, during both his primary and presidential election. The Devos family is also deeply embedded in conservative politics, usually of the Christian fascist variety. They are major donors to the GOP’s war chest as well, having given up to a commonly cited total of $200 million dollars to the Republican Party.


Featured image via Win McNamee/Getty Images