Instead Of Providing Free Education, Senators Propose Raising Costs Of College

Dave Johnson

Congress should do the right thing the right thing for our people, our country and our economy and provide a free college education to everyone who qualifies. Instead student loan rates doubled July 1 because our obstructed Congress couldn’t and wouldn’t act in time. Now there is word of a Senate deal that would have the government make a profit off of students by setting loans at “market rates.” For now Congress should just renew the current rate and hope that democracy — and simple common sense — returns down the road.

Education Adds To People’s Lives, Strengthens Economy And Country

In a democracy by definition government spending is about making our lives better. In a democracy where people have a say people say we want education, good wages and benefits, a modern transportation infrastructure, good law enforcement, equal justice with equal access to courts, a safe workplace, a clean environment, protection from predators of all types (including predatory businesses) and all the other opportunities that modern society offers.

You can measure the strength of a democracy by the extent to which these are available to people, versus how much the society caters to those with great wealth and power.

Obvioualy education is good for people. Obviously educating more people is good for the country. Obviously an economy benefits from lots of well-educated people. Obviously making education widely and freely available is a primary benefit of a strong democracy. And then when the people, country and economy benefits from a widely and freely-available education everyone benefits from those gains.

But now our government is on the verge of doing the opposite, increasing the cost of already-expensive college education, citing the need to reduce spending to reduce pressure to raise taxes on the few at the top.

Senate Deal Reported

Instead of providing free college education to our people, or at least subsidizing student loans, the House has passed legislation linking student loan rates to “market rates.” They say the contry needs to reduce deficits and student loans are one pllace to bring in more cash for the government.

Now it is reported that the Senate has reached a “deal” on just how much to fleece students, in order to reduce the budget deficit. The current “deal” would let student loan interest rates climb to 8.25% for undergrads. Grad students could pay rates as high as 9.5%. Parents could pay up to 10.5%.

(Note that deficits are down by half from those left by the prior administration, arguments for austerity have been discredited, and in a democracy government spending by definition is about making people’s lives better, not making a profit for the government so that taxes on the wealthy can be kept low.)

Do Not Do This

Senators, do not do this. Our government should be making education freely and widely available, noot making a profit off of the public in order to keep taxes low on the wealthiest.

Congress should at least let students borrow at the same rate as the banks. And if they can’t act like a government in a democracy should act, they should at least hold the line on current rates until they can!

What can you do? Bob Borosage says Protest the Student Loan Misdeal: “We urge all to call on your Senators today and tell them to oppose the deal.”

Protest against the deal – if it is consummated – -is not likely to be successful in stopping it. But it is necessary. It will put legislators on notice. What is an acceptable deal inside the beltway is not acceptable to voters across the country. This deal must be considered not a 10-year fix, but a one-year stopgap. Congress must take up the question of making college affordable next year, so we can hold them accountable at the polls in 2014.

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