words match his actions?
“To be, rather than to seem.” – North Carolina State motto
In October President Obama announced a plan to give relief to people with federally backed student loans. Most of the news media reported that this new plan would save college students piles of cash.
Often not reported was the fact
that the Obama administration’s ‘plan’ amounted to little more than a proposal to expedite provisions already in the law. The only truly new part of the proposal was an effort to consolidate many privately funded student loans into federally funded loans. The Atlantic magazine calculated this proposal will save the average college grad less than $10 a month.
For the average undergrad with $27,000 in student loan debt this is a far cry from relief. In fact, it masks the real problem: young people are being sold a bill of goods.
Too many young people were told that accumulating $27,000 in debt for a college degree was a good trade off for the high paying job that would await them upon graduation from college. Now many of grads find themselves jobless and drowning in government-backed debt. Their frustration is palpable.
High college debt is a problem, but it is a secondary problem, more of a symptom than the actual illness. The illness is two-fold. First, college costs are out of control, and secondly, our economy is stuck in a tepid economic recovery that isn’t creating many new jobs.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s solution to high college debt is to address the symptom and not the illness. Consider this: federal subsidies for higher education like Pell grants have increased 475 percent in the past three decades. At the same time, college costs ballooned 439 percent. The federal government keeps throwing more money at subsidizing college for students. What happens is fairly predictable: college costs spiral out of control.
That’s why the idea of making college debt more affordable is so backwards. Easy money from the feds is driving up costs. Instead of asking the question that many conservatives are asking—“what is making college so expensive?”—many liberals in Congress too often ask, “how can we subsidize it even more?” As a result, college costs keep going up.
Theoretically, if college grads were able to find work, $27,000 in debt might not even seem so bad. But the stark fact is that many of them remain jobless. President Obama’s solution to this continued joblessness was his American Jobs Act proposal.
This proposal is a sad imitation of the 2009 stimulus bill that was supposed to keep unemployment below 8%. Many have dubbed it “son of stimulus” although I prefer the less menacing “stimulus junior.”
It contains many of the same failed policies of the original stimulus and simply won’t do the trick to spur economic growth and private sector job creation. In fact, it languished for more than a month in the House before a single Democrat would even cosponsor it.
At the same time the House has taken a number of steps to spur economic growth and job creation, despite the President’s insistence that he can’t wait for Congress to act. At this moment, 15 pieces of legislation
that address job creation and economic growth are languishing in the Senate. Every last one passed the House with bipartisan support, many with the votes of dozens of Democrats. However, these bills remain stuck in the Senate, which is the do-nothing part of the Congress.
The truth is that young college grads with thousands in debt and the millions of Americans without work need more a new half trillion-dollar stimulus bill or a college debt plan that doesn’t begin to address the root problems facing young Americans. They need the kind of solutions like those awaiting a vote in the Senate that encourage private sector job creation.
The North Carolina state motto, “To be, rather than to seem,” has inspired the people of our great state for more than a century to confront the world and its problems with truth and action, rather than smoke and mirrors. For those in Washington that appear bound to governing by mirage, this motto is apt. At the end of the day most Americans know—whether they are college students, job creators or unemployed workers—results are more important than rhetoric.
U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx represents the Fifth Congressional District of North Carolina. She currently serves on the House Rules Committee and as Chair of the House Higher Education subcommittee. You may contact her office toll free at 1-866-677-8968 or e-mail her from her website, www.foxx.house.gov.