Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday Obama: Historic Reform

Just so it doesn't get lost in all the health care hoopla, President Obama highlights the student loan reforms that were passed this week.

Year after year, we’ve seen billions of taxpayer dollars handed out as subsidies to the bankers and middlemen who handle federal student loans, when that money should have gone to advancing the dreams of our students and working families. And yet attempts to fix this problem and reform this program were thwarted by special interests that fought tooth and nail to preserve their exclusive giveaway.

But this time, we said, would be different. We said we’d stand up to the special interests, and stand up for the interests of students and families. That’s what happened this week. And I commend all the Senators and Representatives who did the right thing.

This reform of the federal student loan programs will save taxpayers $68 billion over the next decade. And with this legislation, we’re putting that money to use achieving a goal I set for America: by the end of this decade, we will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

To make college more affordable for millions of middle-class Americans for whom the cost of higher education has become an unbearable burden, we’re expanding federal Pell Grants for students: increasing them to keep pace with inflation in the coming years and putting the program on a stronger financial footing. In total, we’re doubling funding for the federal Pell Grant program to help the students who depend on it.

To make sure our students don’t go broke just because they chose to go to college, we’re making it easier for graduates to afford their student loan payments. Today, about 2 in 3 graduates take out loans to pay for college. The average student ends up with more than $23,000 in debt. So when this change takes effect in 2014, we’ll cap a graduate’s annual student loan repayments at 10 percent of his or her income.

Like the man said, we are taking guaranteed federal subsidies out of the hands of the bankers, and putting it in the pockets of students. To top it off, this is something that voters in both parties agree is a good idea.

But the best of all, it provides us with yet another example of how the Republicans have gone right around the bend on their own talking points lately...

“The Democratic majority decided, well look, while we’re at it, let’s have another Washington takeover,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee and a former federal education secretary. “Let’s take over the federal student loan program.”

The government took over a government program. Shocking. And keep your government hands off that Medicare, too.

It's right up there with the teabagger who goes on national television and to the Washington Post to brazenly advocate that people resort to violence to stop this "tyranny", calling for followers to break the windows on Democratic offices over health care reform, only to find out later that he receives government disability checks.

If Tea Party hysteria wasn't so dangerous to innocent people and this country as a whole, it would be laughable.