September 29, 2022

| Print Page | Send to a Friend Home > Media Center

Published Friday, May 30, 2014

ICYMI - IFL had a new piece on the Washington Times

LANGER: ‘O’ is for Obama’s overregulation

The educationists want to bury for-profit schools under paperwork


It has always the intention of the Obama administration to remake the American economy, and, in doing so, remake American society at large. Nowhere has this been more evident than in its use of executive branch power — through regulations, executive orders and task force operations — to target industries (and the segments of society that they serve) and bring them to heel to do what the administration wants.

President Obama only has a bit more than 2 years left to accomplish his most ambitious goals and much remains to be done. Among sectors targeted as ripe for transformation is education, especially secondary and post-secondary education. Despite their antimonopolistic sloganeering, liberals hate competition, especially when it comes to the struggle between traditional, state-run or nonprofit schools, and any other model of education, be it charter, parochial or for-profit. It is hard to conclude which model offends liberals more, but when it comes to secondary education, those who try to serve educational consumer needs by using a for-profit business model draw special ire. So much so that the Department of Education has, for years now, been trying to stifle the growth of profit-making educational institutions, regardless of their effectiveness.

To liberals, the very word “profit” is taboo, and they’ve been working hard to come up with ways to punish educators who believe the for-profit model might have some real advantages. To get at these institutions, the president’s folks are currently proposing what they call “gainful-employment rules.” Under these regulations, a litmus test would be applied to allow regulators to grade schools on the basis of how much debt their students accrue compared with how much they earn for the first few years after graduation, as well as how many students repay their federal loans. Ideally, those schools that don’t meet an arbitrary debt-to-income ratio or have too many delinquent student borrowers could be shut down.

They’ve tried a version of this approach, but a federal judge literally called their first attempt to overregulate the educational institutions “arbitrary and capricious.” This is their second attempt now, and it is interesting to note that the White House and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have made it clear that traditional public and nonprofit colleges and universities won’t have to meet the new standards. They are being exempted in part because few of them would get a passing grade under these tests, which are clearly directed not at them, but at the competition.

To make matters worse, many of the president’s supporters in the Senate want to go further, much further. Ignoring the administration’s losses on this issue in court, Senate Democrats such as Tom Harkin of Iowa, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Christopher Murphy of Connecticut and Brian Schatz of Hawaii are pushing the Department of Education to be even more aggressive in tamping down on for-profit colleges.

Their motives are clearly ideological and based on a hostility to the very concept of for-profit education, but these efforts have potentially serious consequences that should concern us all. The idea that it is possible to judge educational value with such arbitrary tests is problematic at best. Harvard President Drew Faust, no friend of for-profit institutions, maintains that a college graduate’s earnings in a first job are a “poor proxy” for measuring an educational institution’s value, a sentiment echoed by the chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley, Nicholas Dirks.

Moreover, the regulatory-impact analyses done by the Department of Education in this proposal are woefully inadequate. Though understating the cost of regulation is standard operating procedure for regulatory agencies, in this case the cost estimates are almost laughable. Education estimated, for instance, that annual regulatory costs would be $236 million, with a paperwork burden of nearly 7 million hours.

Nearly a decade ago, the National Federation of Independent Business did a seminal study on the cost of federal paperwork, concluding then that federal paperwork costs on average $50 per hour to work through and fill out. Now, even if one assumes that these costs haven’t risen over the years since the study was completed, paperwork costs alone would run $350 million, far above the $236 million that the Department of Education estimates. Putting the paperwork in an hourly context, 7 million hours is the equivalent of 3,500 man years. One man, working 2,000 hours a year for 3,500 years, or 3,500 people working for a solid year, just on Department of Education paperwork.

The inability of many schools to comply with these new regulations will drive many out of business. This may make liberals happy, but it will narrow rather than widen the educational options available to tomorrow’s students. This means that it will cost jobs — both careers for students and jobs for those within these institutions.

The gainful-employment rule is a bad idea. At least it’s bad for those who will lose an educational option and for teachers who might provide them the education they seek. It may be good, however, for public and nonprofit institutions loath to compete with educational innovators as they continue to raise tuition to students while pursuing educational politically correct agendas that too often have little to do with training or educating students for the real world after graduation.

Andrew Langer is president of the Institute for Liberty.

Published Wednesday, May 14, 2014

As published in National Review

The Case for Ground Forces in Ukraine

As in South Korea, U.S. troops don’t need to engage to protect the borders of a sovereign state.

By Andrew Langer
Published Wednesday, May 14, 2014

As printed in the Daily Caller:

Obama’s Operation Choke Point And The New American Legal System

Posted By Andrew Langer On 5:06 PM 05/13/2014 

Recently social media was ablaze with the news that adult entertainer, Teagan Presley, had received word from Chase Bank that they were closing her account.  Presley had just become the latest law-abiding citizen to be swept up in “Operation Choke Point,” an joint effort by the Departments of Justice, Treasury and a handful of other agencies to effectively shut-down industries that the federal government doesn’t like.  Here’s the catch – they have no legal authority to shutter them and most of the victims of this overreach are losing their banking relationships even though they’ve done nothing wrong.

Targeting the adult entertainment industry may have been a gross tactical error on the part of the federal government. Until now, Operation Choke Point had been focusing on easy targets: short-term lenders, check cashing businesses, and online ammunition sales. All of those are legal industries, but the attacks garnered little public attention and therefore even less sympathy. Not so when it comes to the adult entertainment industry.

Regardless of where you are on the ideological spectrum, Operation Choke Point should greatly disturb you. You may not like payday lenders, pornography, or guns and ammunition, but it should worry anyone that the power of the federal government could operate in a manner that circumvents due process and is exercised with almost no accountability.

Operation Choke Point works like this: the inter-agency group selects an industry target, let’s say, an at-home business that sells cosmetics. Agents working on Operation Choke Point then contact the financial institutions where these entrepreneurs both have their bank accounts and process their payments, informing them that the federal government considers this industry “risky” and potentially  “fraudulent.” The government then “encourages” these financial institutions to cease doing business with individuals within that industry, which are mostly independent small business owners. If the financial institution does not cease doing business with them, then the full weight of federal regulatory power (DOJ, Treasury, FDIC, CFPB) will be brought to bear on the bank or payment processor.

Not wanting to be buried under red tape, these financial institutions then close bank accounts and refuse to process credit card payments for the business even if no impropriety has ever been alleged by any agency or legal entity. The end result is that the flow of cash to and from these businesses is “choked off” and the business dies. Whole industries can be destroyed using this method.

This is the new American judicial system. No need for cumbersome new legislation or regulations. No need for a public debate on the merits, or an accounting of the impact of this operation through the normal regulatory processes. The federal government merely pushes a button and these businesses are destroyed.

This is especially troubling when the industries at issue have had their right to exist debated in both legislative and judicial arenas—and their rights have been upheld by the courts.

Whether it is the First Amendment and pornography or the Second Amendment and firearms and ammunition, Operation Choke Point circumvents the Constitution’s protections. But perhaps you don’t care about porn, guns, payday lenders, or any of the current targets of Operation Choke Point. In that case, what ought to be of deep and abiding concern is the lasting legacy — the precedent that creates a new reality for all of us.

If Operation Choke Point is allowed to grow unchallenged, then no industry is safe from an administration, Republican or Democrat, that has decided to support that industry’s destruction but doesn’t want to go to the trouble of the legal or legislative process.

So you may not like short-term lenders, but perhaps you are in favor of marijuana legalization. If Operation Choke Point stands, there is nothing to prevent the targeting of legal dispensaries and growing operations having their bank accounts canceled or payment processing shut down.

Should this extra-legal process go unabated, there is nothing that would prevent, for instance, the targeting of businesses that provide materials for home school education. There is no reason why an administration with this power would hesitate to use it to promote a particular ideology or special interests in the financial services or energy sectors. In fact, it’s already happening.

Liberty is derived from the diffusion of sovereign power — power that must be balanced and checked and limited. Operation Choke Point is vast and unbridled power, hurting real people and their ability to make a living. No matter where you stand, progressive or conservative, you should be deeply concerned about the legacy of Operation Choke Point, and should be calling for its cessation immediately.

Published Monday, April 28, 2014
April 28, 2014

Operation Choke Point Continues To Expand, Gun Sellers Are Next
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Institute for Liberty has released the following statement in response to reports from and TMZ that Chase Bank is severing ties with its customers in the adult entertainment industry. 
“Operation Choke Point,” the President’s infamous program which seeks to cut off legal industries and law-abiding businesses from their financial institutions had previously identified adult-entertainment as a target along with gun sellers and short-term lenders.  Banks across the nation have already severed relationships with thousands of customers because of Operation Choke Point:
“In President Obama’s America, it just doesn’t matter whether you’ve done anything illegal.  It doesn’t matter if your industry operates within the confines of the law. You can still be in the crosshairs of the Federal government. This report confirms what we’ve suspected for some time, that Operation Choke Point would expand to destroy the other industries on the President’s infamous hit list. 
This abuse of power and these intimidation tactics fly in the face of the free market and free society. Yesterday it was check-cashers and today it’s the adult entertainment industry.  We know where they are going next because they’ve told us -- direct sales businesses, gun and ammunition sellers, the gaming industry and charities. It’s becoming clear that no industry is safe from this administration’s mob-style approach to regulation.”
IFL is an aggressive defender of the rights of individuals to pursue the American dream. They inject the perspective of small businesses, and the working families that depend on them, into the public policy debate. For more, please visit:


Published Tuesday, April 8, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, the House Financial Services Committee held an oversight hearing regarding the operations of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).  Despite their promises of transparency, the CFPB was once again reluctant to be forthcoming and clear with answers to questions from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers.  On issues related to criteria used to target investigations of financial businesses, inappropriate pressures being brought to bear on banks, and the unprecedented action of paying for audience members to attend CFPB hearings in order to speak in support of CFPB policies, panelists were unwilling to provide in-depth answers to congressional questions.

Andrew Langer, President of the Institute for Liberty, an organization active on issues related to the CFPB, said the following:

“This hearing added nothing to the attempt to shed some light on the opaque operations of a hugely powerful regulatory agency, except to make it clearer than ever that this is an agency fundamentally out of control.  Oversight only works when agencies are forthcoming and cooperative.  CFPB was anything but.  They’re not fooling anyone, though. More and more people are becoming aware of the mess of the CFPB.”

Published Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Watchdog Group Slams CFPB for Having a Socialist Party Leader on Influential Advisory Board


WASHINGTON, D.C.— Institute for Liberty President Andrew Langer released the following statement today slamming the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) after The Washington Times revealed that the former vice presidential candidate of the Socialist Party of the United States is on one of its critical advisory boards. 


“Every American should be disturbed about today’s revelation that the former vice presidential candidate of the Socialist Party of the United States has been given an influential role as a senior advisor to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  This speaks volumes about the true motives and objectives of an agency which has already come under fire for trying to limit free speech, collecting personal data on consumers, and using taxpayer money to plant supporters in front of the media to surreptitiously promote pro-CFPB propaganda.  The Bureau, which operates without Congressional oversight and largely in secret, is apparently becoming a den of leftist political operatives and advisors whose objective is to interfere with the free market and our Constitutional freedoms.


Fundamentally, the philosophical perspective of socialism should be nowhere near any agency that has massive regulatory authority over the financial services industry, other businesses and massive segments of our economy. The idea that someone who does not believe in market economics would play any kind of a role in advising an Agency that is part of the Federal Reserve, demonstrates that the CFPB is America’s most dangerous, out-of-control and unaccountable federal agency. Congressional action must be taken now to rein in this agency and expose its agenda.”


IFL is an aggressive defender of the rights of individuals to pursue the American dream. They inject the perspective of small businesses, and the working families that depend on them, into the public policy debate. For more, please visit:



Published Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Institute for Liberty Calls Democrats’ Attempt To
Cancel CFPB Oversight Hearing “Shameful”

“Oversight only works when Congress is Actually Able to Hear Testimony
on Agency Operations”
Washington, D.C. — Institute for Liberty (IFL) President Andrew Langer released the following statement today in response to Democrat members of the House Committee on Financial Services’ request that the oversight hearing regarding allegations of discrimination at the Consumer Financial Services Bureau (CFPB) be canceled:
“It is highly unsurprising, but no less shameful, that Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee want to see Wednesday’s hearing on allegations of discrimination at the CFPB canceled.  House Democrats have been singularly unwilling to hold this administration accountable for the myriad abuses of power that its CFPB personnel have committed –- all while CFPB personnel are collecting record high salaries from the American taxpayer. 
The CFPB, an agency with enormous — and largely unaccountable — power is one of the most politicized federal agencies, which is all the more reason why abusive, retaliatory, and discriminatory practices must be thoroughly investigated.  The fact that House Democrats want to sweep these allegations under the rug should give any American pause. Oversight only works when Congress is actually able to hear testimony on an agency’s operations.”
IFL is an aggressive defender of the rights of individuals to pursue the American dream. They inject the perspective of small businesses, and the working families that depend on them, into the public policy debate. For more, please visit:  
# # #

Watchdog Group Outraged at CFPB Audience Fraud

Agency Paid for Pro-CFPB Audience Member at Field Hearing 


WASHINGTON, D.C.— Institute for Liberty President Andrew Langer released the following statement today slamming the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) after it was revealed the secretive government agency paid for a pro-CFPB speaker at a field hearing. 


“Operatives within the agency, many of whom have close ties to both President Obama and Senator Elizabeth Warren, violated agency policy by planting the speaker to give media the impression of consumer support for its efforts. This revelation comes on the heels of yesterday’s controversy over Democrat Senators attempting to prevent CFPB whistleblowers from testifying about other abuses at the agency.


After two-decades standing up against abuses of power by the federal government, I didn’t think I could be shocked by the coordinated actions of an agency to manipulate the press and public opinion.  This one-two punch of paying for audience members and attempting to squash the testimony of whistleblowers are just two examples of a disturbing pattern of behavior for a powerful agency with virtually no oversight.


Last week, I testified at the CFPB’s field hearing in Nashville, voicing my concern for their double-talk on regulation and unwarranted interference with consumer choice and the free market. While few folks in attendance stood in favor of the CFPB’s power grab, one is now left to wonder if any of the audience members who voiced pro-CFPB opinions were paid to attend. 


Congress must work to pierce the veil of this secretive agency, which will clearly stop at nothing to protect the ideology and agenda of a highly politicized agency bent on eroding Americans’ Constitutional freedoms.”


IFL is an aggressive defender of the rights of individuals to pursue the American dream. They inject the perspective of small businesses, and the working families that depend on them, into the public policy debate. For more, please visit:




Published Monday, March 31, 2014

Last Tuesday, IFL President Andrew Langer testified at the CFPB hearing in Nashville.

Listen to his statement here!


Items 25-32 of 97
The Institute For Liberty 1250 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 200 Washington, DC 20036 P: (202) 261-6592 F: (877) 350-6147