Thursday, June 7, 2012

Why Obama Came to UNLV Today

So President Obama was back here in Vegas today. He was officially here to discuss student loans...

But this was also seen through the prism of the campaign. After all, President Obama had an opportunity to remind UNLV students of what he wants to do to make higher education more affordable. And Republicans really can't make an honest rebuttal.

Here's what Obama said at UNLV today.

“This is a no-brainer,” Obama told hundreds of attendees inside UNLV’s Cox Pavilion. “I’m telling Congress, get this done.”

Spurring Congress to action was a theme throughout Obama’s speech, which touched on several topics, including the economy and jobs.

The president said the nation’s economy was improving but admitted it was a hard path that would take time to turn around completely.

He called on elected leaders to take action.

“My message to Congress is: Let’s get to work. Let’s get to work,” he said.

“Congress should pass a bill, like I’ve asked them to do, to help states like Nevada ... put people back into jobs,” he said.

Obama, pulling a page from Harry Truman’s presidential campaign playbook, chastised a do-nothing Congress.

“You’re not sitting around doing nothing,” Obama told the audience. “You should expect the same from your elected representatives

And here's why.

Doubling interest rates will cost the average student and their families approximately $1,000 more for each year in school. This increase comes at a time when tuition has been rising at 8 percent per year on average. Students are actually paying more than the cost of tuition when loan interest payments are factored into the equation. Those borrowers relying on Stafford Loans will see a 20 percent increase in the effective cost of college next year.

Millions of students and their families will be impacted by this change. There are 20.5 million college students in the United States and of those, an estimated 7.4 million students take out Subsidized Stafford Loans. In other words, one in three students will see their interest rates double.

This increase in the cost of college will hit students and their families at a time when young adults have struggled to find work and wages have stagnated. Median weekly earnings for 25- to 34-year-olds have fallen 5 percent since 2001. The result is that young adults are less able to pay their student loan debt even as the amount they owe balloons with rising tuition. This will make it harder for young adults to afford college at a time when having that college degree is more essential for employment than ever.

And here's the really disgusting thing about this latest show of G-O-TEA obstruction. Republicans in Congress, like Nevada's own Dean Heller and Joe Heck, are voting to make college education unaffordable and inaccessible for Nevada's 99% working class students simply because they want to protect their 1% patrons. Yes, that's what it's really about.

Yet now, they're trying to pass the buck and pin all the blame on Obama. Oh, and they're now complaining about President Obama setting the record straight here at UNLV today? Give me a break.

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