While it would be a miracle for the United States Senate to pass anything right now in its current gridlocked stalemate, there is one bill that both parties should be eagerly embracing. The Student Aid and Responsibility Act, passed by the House of Representatives last September but currently stalled in the Senate, could become a major talking point in the upcoming midterm elections, and Republican detractors should reconsider their stubborn reluctance to support it.
The aspects of the bill are fairly straightforward. Right now, loans to college students who cannot afford tuition can be handled by the Federal government or private lenders, such as Sallie Mae. Billions of dollars are lent every year to students all over the country, who attend all sorts of secondary institutions, from community colleges to large research institutions. This new law would eliminate the role of the private lenders and instead consolidate the student loan industry in the hands of the Federal government.
So is this just another example of Obama and Big Government liberals planning a government takeover of yet another industry in a blatant power grab? Not so fast my friend. This bill addresses the major issues that have driven voters to the GOP, and standing against it would surely alienate many supporters.
First and foremost, the institution of government-backed businesses has cost the American people billions (maybe trillions) of dollars for their role in the recent financial crisis. The gambling like business plans of these government infused corporations created a reality of “Corporate Win or Taxpayer Loss” in which private lenders would give students loans, and if those students pay back their debts, they pocket the profits, yet if they default, the Federal government provides the would-be profits anyway. This is the same corrupt scheme that created so much public anger against the mortgage industry and the Wall Street bailouts. Under these rules, bankers and lenders have no risk but plenty of reward and use the system to funnel billions from taxpayers.
It would be wise for GOP incumbents to be on the side of the country, not special interests on this bill, or else this November will likely not be as rewarding as they hope.
Secondly, the major issue looming over the United States is its ballooning debt. Federal government debt has skyrocketed the last decade and will eventually lead to calamitous results. Either back-breaking inflation will choke the economy of the future or harsh tax increases coupled with spending cuts will dominate the political agenda in the next era. Obviously, it is not only good policy, but good politics to address this money and cut out waste, and this bill is projected to save 80 billion dollars over the next ten years alone.
The Republican party has regained momentum over the last few months as the calendar moves toward the 2010 midterm elections. Most political strategists have identified voter anger over government bailouts and funding of private companies, wasteful government stimulus spending and an out of control debt as the major problems. These are the issues that the GOP will win on in November. This bill hits on all of the main issues that are driving voters in this current climate: It would eliminate government backing and bailing out of private companies, and it would save billions of dollars in wasteful government spending and curb the dangerous rise of the national debt. Can Republicans really afford to be on the side of big corporate lenders and wasteful government spending this fall? Common sense says no. However, many senators have taken thousands of dollars from Sallie Mae and these lending companies, and are acting in the interest of corporate bankers instead of their constituents. They argue that this bill would destroy jobs (despite ignoring the parallel jobs it would create) and spout off the usual “change is bad” arguments. However, a plausible case for rejecting the bill has not been made. It would be wise for GOP incumbents to be on the side of the country, not special interests on this bill, or else this November will likely not be as rewarding as they hope.
—Rob Simon is a junior in the College of Arts & Science. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org