President Obama is holding a campaign-style rally in Nevada on student loans today - approximately 2,000 miles away from where he would be if he were actually interested in resolving the issue rather than picking a political fight where none exists. Yesterday, House Republican leaders sent a letter to President Obama urging him to forgo the rally and come to the table to discuss the “good-faith, workable” solutions Republicans put forth one week ago to prevent student loan rates from doubling in less than a month. The House has already passed reasonable, responsible legislation to stop the student loan rate hike - the Democratic-led Senate has not. And, as Speaker Boehner said today, the GOP’s good-faith overtures to find a path forward have been met with “silence” from the White House.
While President Obama spends his time and your money traveling to Las Vegas today, here is a look at how his needless delay in resolving the student loan issue is exacerbating the financial hardship and uncertainty plaguing young Americans in the Obama economy:
- “About 1.5 Million, or 53.6 Percent, of Bachelor's Degree-Holders Under the Age of 25 Last Year Were Jobless or Underemployed.” “About 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor's degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed, the highest share in at least 11 years. … Out of the 1.5 million who languished in the job market, about half were underemployed, an increase from the previous year.” (The Associated Press, 4/23/12)
- “Nationally, Total Student Loan Debt Now Exceeds $1 Trillion.” “A new crop of college graduates will be entering the job market this summer, and they'll have to confront one of the slowest-growing economies in history. Most of them will have tens of thousands of dollars in debt hanging over them during their job search. Nationally, total student loan debt now exceeds $1 trillion, and those with federal student loans will see their interest rates double this summer if Congress doesn't act to extend current subsidies.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6/3/12)
- “Unemployment for recent college graduates is almost 9 percent. That means 1 out of 11 college graduates are not earning a paycheck.” (U.S. News & World Report, 6/5/12)
- “For the Next 10 to 15 Years, the Class of 2012 Will Likely Earn Less Than They Would If They Had Graduated When the Economy Was Stronger.” “Consider one study from the Economic Policy Institute, which said the unemployment rate averaged 9.4 percent from early 2011 through early 2012 for college graduates age 21 to 24. Another 19.1 percent were underemployed, which included those who worked part time but wanted full-time work. And for the next 10 to 15 years, the Class of 2012 will likely earn less than they would if they had graduated when the economy was stronger.” (The Chicago Tribune, 6/1/12)
- “Overall, student loan debt has surpassed the $1 trillion mark nationally, and student loan debt exceeds credit card debt in U.S. households.” (The Press-Register, 6/4/12)
As Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor noted in their letter yesterday, the solutions offered by Republicans are based on areas of common ground identified in the president’s budget. With time running short, President Obama ought to spend less time ramping up the disingenuous rhetoric and more time working with Republicans on these bipartisan options to give the seven million Americans facing a loan rate hike some measure of relief.
In addition to passing legislation that would stop the rate hike without adding to the deficit, the House has passed 30 jobs bills to help the economy grow and create jobs for struggling graduates – and all Americans – that Senate Democrats continue blocking. With nearly 13 million Americans still stuck in the unemployment line, it is incumbent upon President Obama and Senate Democrats to take action on these jobs bills, and the bipartisan options for stopping the student loan rate increase.