Hillary Clinton’s flawed plan for student debt relief. Aug 24, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 47 • By JAMES PIERESON
Nearly everyone recognizes that student debt has risen to a level that will be difficult to sustain, given the nation’s slow-growing economy and the sagging incomes of too many college-educated Americans. Nearly 40 million Americans carry some form of student debt; more than 7 million are in default on their loans, and many more have missed scheduled payments. The total amount of outstanding student debt is estimated to be $1.2 trillion, with about two-thirds of this sum underwritten by the federal government.
It is not difficult to figure out the reasons for exploding student debt. On the one hand, high school graduates and their parents understand that a college education is essential for entry into the narrowing world of high-paying professional jobs. College and university enrollments increased by more than a third between 2000 and 2014, from 15 million to more than 21 million students. At the same time, college tuition and fees have been growing at more than three times the rate of inflation for three decades now and at more than two times the growth in the median family income over the same period. In 2015, the average tuition (plus fees) for in‑state students at public universities is in the neighborhood of $10,000 per year and over $40,000 per year for students attending private universities. A fair amount of careful research suggests that these soaring costs are partly attributable to the increasing availability of loans encouraged by federal policy.
Hillary Clinton’s new $350 billion (over 10 years) proposal takes aim at this vast constituency of voters paying off student loans or worried about the costs of taking them on. She says that her proposal will enable most students to meet college expenses without taking on loans, a claim that is surely exaggerated in view of the scale and scope of her plan. At best it is a proposal to mitigate the problem somewhat by permitting borrowers to reduce interest rates on current loans and to use the carrot of federal funds to force states to invest more public funds in higher education.
The largest portion of this money ($175 billion) would go to encourage (bribe) state governments to invest more resources in higher education so that tuition charges can be reduced at four-year institutions and eliminated entirely for two-year community colleges. Under her plan, the Department of Education would make funds available to match state budget allocations for higher education and to reward states that keep a lid on tuition increases. She would also expand work-study programs to permit more students to work off college expenses during their student years. The combined federal and state funds, as much as $35 billion per year across the country, would theoretically allow states to maintain tuition at affordable levels for students so that loans would be unnecessary. This is a point worth emphasizing: She is not making tuition “free,” but rather substituting public funds for student-paid tuition.
Total tuition charges at all institutions (public and private) in 2015 will amount to around $300 billion, plus expenses for books, room, and board. A mix of federal, state, and private scholarships subsidizes a significant portion of this sum. The federal government, for example, spends approximately $30 billion per year on Pell grants to support tuition and other expenses for more than nine million students from lower-income families. Clinton’s contribution of $17.5 billion in federal funds per annum would make a dent in this package, but it is hard to see how it would ever allow reductions in tuition and fees to levels that would allow students to dispense with loans.
Appropriations for higher education in states across the country have fallen off by an average of 16 percent since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008. Clinton along with the liberal think tanks associated with the Democratic party claim that this is a major cause of tuition increases at public universities and thus a major source of the student debt crisis. This is a greatly exaggerated claim, however, since student debt was accumulating for decades prior to the financial crisis. The financial crisis may have exacerbated the problem, but it did not cause it.
Clinton should ask herself why so many states found it necessary to cut appropriations for higher education in the years following the financial crisis. The major reason was that governors and legislators had other priorities, among them paying for public employee pensions, meeting federal mandates to pay for Medicaid, welfare, and K-12 education, and finding revenues to meet law enforcement and transportation budgets. It is not hard to understand why higher education has been squeezed out in the keen competition for state funds.
Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy ranks way up there. Aug 24, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 47 • By JAY COST
Hillary Clinton is a scandalous candidate for president of the United States. Most people acknowledge this, at least judging by her plummeting poll numbers. A raft of stories gives the distinct impression that she and her husband have been running an elaborate pay-to-play operation. Donations to the Clinton Foundation may have produced favorable State Department policies dealing with Russia-owned U.S. uranium deposits, Haitian relief efforts, and foreign banking interests.
Which one is the bigger problem?Jul 27, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 43 • By FRED BARNES
Two political entities are in a state of panic. One is the leadership of the Republican party, suffering a fright attack over the visibility of Donald Trump as a Republican presidential candidate. The other is Hillary Clinton, whose Democratic presidential campaign plunges as she tries to appease the left wing of her party.
4:44 PM, Oct 15, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
A video tracker for the opposition research firm America Rising asked Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn whether she voted for President Obama in the 2008 and 2012 elections. Nunn, who is in a close race to fill the open Georgia Senate seat, refused to answer the direct question.
"Ms. Nunn, did you vote for President Obama in 2008 and 2012?" the tracker asked.
6:02 PM, Sep 27, 2014 • By MATT LABASH
If I sported a hairpiece, I’d be wearing it at half-mast right about now, upon hearing that the world just grew a little less interesting. For the most colorful man who ever inhabited Congress, former Ohio Democratic Rep. James A .
Not ready for Hillary.10:19 AM, Sep 14, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Tom Harkin, the top Democrat in Iowa, tells ABC News that he has serious questions about where Hillary Clinton stands on the issues:
"But some Democrats still have their doubts," says ABC's Jonathan Karl. "Some progressives are a little uneasy with Hillary Clinton and is she going to be too hawkish on foreign policy, is she going to be too moderate on economic issues?"
8:15 AM, Nov 28, 2013 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
On the one hand, this is a pretty dour Thanksgiving. Iran has just won an enormous diplomatic victory, which not only sets them on the road to nuclear weapons but makes the fecklessness of the Western powers clear to the world. Harry Reid's decision to destroy the filibuster signals an escalation in the ugliness of American politics. And let's not forget that we're still mired in a recovery that's looking more like the new normal with each passing week. Humbug.
12:40 PM, Nov 3, 2013 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Could the focus on Obamacare in the last couple of weeks before Tuesday's Virginia gubernatorial election enable the Republican nominee, Ken Cuccinelli, to come from behind in the homestretch? He's run a pretty awful campaign so far, and has been trailing badly for months, but ...
10:28 AM, Oct 15, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Debbie Wasserman Schultz is out, today, with her first book. In his Politico Playbook, Mike Allen calls it a "D.C. Must-Read." Which, if true, is the most depressing news to come out of the Imperial City so far this week. But, then, it is only Tuesday.
8:46 AM, Sep 27, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Democratic senator Heidi Heitkamp "is ready to take on President Obama over the long-delayed approval for the Keystone XL Pipeline — and she predicts her side will prevail," according to USA Today.
September 15, 2008.11:58 AM, Sep 19, 2013 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
Sunday was September 15. It's an important anniversary, because it's the day that gave us President Barack Obama.
8:07 AM, Aug 17, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Louisiana Senate Democrat Mary Landrieu is doubling down on her support for Obamacare. She says, if a vote for Obamacare were held tomorrow, she'd again vote to support the bill.
"No more free riders. Everybody has to share responsibility so we can keep a healthy work force and keep it strong. And I can give you more information about it. If I had to vote for the bill again, I'd vote for it tomorrow. There are a lot of good things about this bill," said Landrieu.
Details of county chief’s sordid affair with subordinate emerge.10:08 AM, Jul 25, 2013 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
Portland is nothing if not tolerant. The picturesque city in the Pacific Northwest has, in recent years, endured one mayor who admitted to a gay affair with an underage intern, a different mayor who claimed residency in Washington state (where there is no income tax) yet voted in Oregon, not to mention downtown streets choked with aggressive transients. (Oh, and the weather's not great either.) But a new scandal must be trying the patience of even the most forgiving denizens of Portlandia.
1:47 PM, Jul 11, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
In 2005, Harry Reid said, “I would never, ever consider breaking the rules to change the rules. I never suggested that at all. I say to my friend, I want to work something out. I repeat that for probably the fifth time here today, but in the process we cannot give up the basic rights this country and this Senate have had for more than 200 years.”