Ursula Rozum: Obama throws crumbs to student debtors
Rozum in the Syracuse Post-Standard:
Debt is the tie that binds the 99 percent in the United States. Collectively, we owe $1.2 trillion in student loans. This year's graduating class is the most indebted in U.S. history, with borrowers owing an average of $33,000 upon graduation. More than 70 percent of this year's graduates have taken on student loans, a number that has more than doubled in 20 years. Student loan debt is dragging down our economy by preventing graduates from taking risks like starting a business, investing in a home or even starting a family.
While PAYE might make debt more manageable, it does nothing to restructure the fundamental problem with education in the United States. Education is not a commodity to be bought, sold and priced at the whims of market forces. At least it shouldn't be. What we really need is a commitment to making higher education free.
Free public education means writing off existing student debts and providing tuition-free higher education at public universities. If the federal government can bail out Wall Street and the auto industry, then it can bailout out American citizens whose only "mistake" was pursing higher education.
Education is a social investment that brings strong economic returns. The post-World War II GI Bill provided 8 million veterans with full tuition plus a generous stipend for living expenses. This investment returned $7 for every $1 invested in increased federal tax revenues and expanded economic output.
Well, yeah, but returned to whom?