Sunday, April 29, 2012

More On Deck Chairs

Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education wrote a lengthy blog post at the Huffington Post on Thursday regarding deck chairs student loan interest rates. I’m not sure what it means that we have high officials of the federal government writing for Arianna Huffington, but that’s another issue.

I also must admit that I'm not sure that I understand what it means that we have a Secretary of Education who is 48 years old and has nothing more than a Bachelor's Degree, even though it's from Harvard. Anyway...

He starts out, by way of background, saying that fifty years ago a young person could graduate from high school and get a job that would “guarantee a place in the middle class,” and that those days are gone. He expresses no regret over the passing of those days, nor any suggestion that we make any attempt to revive them. That may have something to do with the fact that he was not even born fifty years ago.

After saying that jobs now and in the future will require a college education, he goes on to say that “college costs across the country have risen almost five times faster than median household income.” He adds that young people did not often borrow money in the past to go to college and now it “is the rule” to do so. He does not suggest that college costs are in any way unreasonable, or that we should make any effort to reduce them. He does not accuse college administrators of any malpractice. He does not appear to see anything wrong with the increase of college costs, and he seemingly has no issue with the lack of increase in household income. He does not suggest that students should not borrow money to go to college. He is merely giving us background here.

 “Captain, there’s a big ass ice field ahead of us.”
 “I know that, Officer Snerdley. Tell me something I care about.”

Sec. Duncan is now approaching the problem area, saying that “a policy change is coming” that will “double the interest rate” on student loans. He says that “no one is suggesting it would be a good idea to double interest rates on credit cards or home mortgages,” and asks why “do some believe it's a good idea to double interest rates for students?” As Liz Browning said, “Let me count the ways” in which he is full of it.

No one is talking about credit cards or home mortgages, nitwit, because those rates were not cut in half two years ago with an expiration date, so they have no expiring rate cut like the student loan rate does. Further, it is the Democrats who “believe it's a good idea to double interest rates for students,” because they are the ones who crafted the bill that cut the interest rate and dictated that it expire after two years, returning the interest rate to its original status.

When the Republicans were protesting the expiration of one of their tax cuts and referred to it as “raising taxes” the Democrats cried foul, claiming that there was a difference between the expiration of a tax cut and an increase in taxes. Then when Omaba’s payroll tax was expiring and he wanted it extended, suddenly the expiration of that temporary tax cut was “raising taxes on working men and women.” Now the expiration of this temporary interest rate is “doubling interest rates for students.”

He refers to it as a “policy change,” which it is not, because the bill is doing exactly what it was written to do two years ago, and is executing the policy which it was crafted to execute.

He sounds the challenge to Congress with a ringing, “We all have a role to play -- the President, Congress, parents, students and schools -- in making college affordable and keeping the middle class dream alive.”

Notice that it used to be that people who graduated from high school were middle class, now people who graduate from college are. The old upper class is now the middle class. That's not actually relevant to the current discussion, but I could not resist making the observation.

 “Captain, we’re steaming at full speed in an ice field.”
 “Officer Snerdley! I told you to rearrange the effing deck chairs!”

The challenge is not that we find a way to provide viable jobs that do not require a college degree; not that we reduce the unconscionable cost of a college education; not that we increase household income to make families able to afford more of everything including college; not that we reduce the need for college loans; but that we maintain the reduction of the interest rate on those college loans. Awesome.

1 comment:

Arthur said...

But Jayhawk, you wouldn't want to increase grants & fellowships now would you? That would be making Evil Big Government even bigger, gasp! Not to mention putting the expense on the backs of taxpayers! Oh wait, it's the taxpayers who subsidize the interest, isn't it? And I guess that part of the reason corporate executives make more than they did 10 years ago, but wage earners don't, is because we have less government control & regulation, isn't it?
OK, so never mind :))

Post a Comment