How Obama Can Push Romney on Student Loans
This item by Mark Landler from the New York Times' coverage of the presidential campaign shows that the president is determined to reopen earlier criticisms of Mitt Romney and the GOP for its indifference to the plight of Americans needing help with financing higher education:
President Obama, adding another verse to his litany of differences with Mitt Romney, promoted his record on education here Tuesday and assailed his Republican challenger for advising financially strapped young people who want to go to college to “shop around and borrow more money from your parents.”
Mr. Obama, who portrayed himself as the fortunate product of affordable education, said Mr. Romney’s educational policies were conspicuously lacking in the student loans, grants, work-study programs and emphasis on lower tuition rates that put higher education within reach of millions of middle-class Americans.
If Obama really wants to make this a major campaign theme, bashing Republican indifference isn't enough. Although his record on the subject is quite progressive (particularly his shutdown of bank involvement in federally-backed student loans), he should embrace reforms in the student loan system needed to deal with longstanding abuses that are a major threat to past, present and future cohorts of Americans seeking a better education. In a sneak preview feature ("Getting Rid of the College Loan Repo Man") from the Washington Monthly's upcoming September/October issue, Stephen Burd of the New America Foundation exposes the causes and effects of a nightmarish system of student loan payment collections that fails to distinguish between people who won't and people who simply can't pay, and also enmeshes millions in a complex and poorly administered set of regulations.