Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Presidential Election 2012: What If the Romney-Ryan Ticket Wins?

[Disclaimer: When it comes to writing essays based solely on conjecture, I despise the exercise. That said, I don't mind those who make predictions about the future. In fact, I quite enjoy reading such things, especially when written by clever, smart, thoughtful folks. Nevertheless, I recently told a history student - who wanted to write an essay of this nature - that I steer clear of  such essayistic-hypothesizing. Alas, I am going against my inclinations. But there is a reason in doing so. I am far more interested in hearing your remarks about the possibility of a Romney-Ryan win. So, please! Do share].

The election is over. The celebrating, the hangovers - for both the winners and the losers - have finally subsided. The Obama team is packing up, and newspapers are crammed with headlines, such as, "Romney Wins By Modest Margin of Votes," "Obama Now Out, Romney Now Up," "Democrats Lose After Just Four Years in White House, Making the White House Home: Romneys Already Renovating," etc. Already weary from the pre-election, and now the post-election, media-extravaganza of theorizing upon theorizing upon theorizing, most of the public find their eyes glazing over when reading these headlines.

In fact, the majority of Americans continue to worry about why they are still unemployed, struggling to cover the bills, or fretting - if they are one of the lucky ones to be employed - about their job security.

Photo Credit: Mary Altaffer/AP

Then there are those who are part of the indentured educated class, a class that continues to grow significantly after each graduating class joins the workforce. If these are the headlines, and Romney is heading to office, how are they feeling? What about prospective students who were advised months ago by Romney to "shop around" for colleges when it comes to taking on student loan debt?  Not only that, Romney has made it clear that he will reinstate something similar to now the defunct FFEL program again. (On a side note, even though Obama's efforts to cut out these middlemen and get rid of the program, student lenders are fairing better than they had while it existed. But that's another story). With Romney now in office, Bush-era appointees, like Bill Hansen, who was Deputy Secretary at the Department of Education, will assume power again. Hansen played a significant role in boosting the for-profit industry, a sector of higher education that has the highest default rates and higher number of college drop-outs. Guess who's picking up the cost for those defaults? Guess who's subsidizing this pernicious industry? The American taxpayer. As reporter Kay Steiger recently mentioned, the industry receives over $32 billion in federal student aid.  AEM has discussed the problematic - and outright unethical - practices ruthlessly carried out by the for-profits on many occasions. However, full credit for coverage of the 2-year study that the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee  published must be given to Steve Burd - at the New America Foundation - who has provided concise, in-depth analysis  on this recent report.

As Steiger notes, Chairman of HELP, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), released the report. Harkin is one of the few leaders on the Hill who has not only acknowledged that there is a student lending crisis (at least in my view), but is actively trying to come up with viable solutions to solve it.

Photo Credit: Bill Neibergall/The Register

So, if Romney and Ryan win, what does this mean for those of us with student loan debt? Furthermore, what does it mean for those who are currently in school, and for those who are planning to go to school? It is well-known that Ryan is no fan of Pell. While higher ed insiders apparently don't think there will be drastic changes to allocations for higher education, which incidentally, is paltry when compared to how much we spend on the Defense Industry and the Pentagon, it is quite possible that that Pell Grants would be axed, severely axed. Of course, in this case, we are talking about students in school or planning to attend school. It is hard to say if anything would be done to help the indentured educated class.

With all that said, what do you think? If Romney wins the election, do you think much will change when it comes to those of us drowning in student loan debt? Or perhaps you think it doesn't matter one way or the other. That is, you are so cynical that you think things will only worsen, regardless of who is in office.


Anonymous said...

It is still too soon actually.

The election debates will finally get going in Sept, and Oct. and we will have to wait and see what is said, and if the SL Debt issue will be discussed in any meaningful way.

Romney has his chance to address the issue, and all ears are open.

Ditto for Obama of course.

Anonymous said...

I have to believe that something will change. It's the only thing that gives me the courage to carry on this way. If there were no hope, there would be no point to remain in this life.

I very much fear the possibility of putting another republican at the head of our country and consequently, in the leading role of the direction of the student lending crisis. We saw what Bush did (removed all hope from private student loans). I'm especially concerned because I hear that Romney has his hand in the higher ed, for-profit cookie jar. I cannot confirm it, but it's what I've been told.

It may very well get worse with Romney and Ryan, but only for a period of time. Eventually, this whole thing's going to come crashing down and whomever is in office will have no other choice than to act.

Let's not forget, however, that Obama has been in office for 4 years and has done little to alleviate the burden. I understand he removed the middle man for federal loans and made some soul-shaking speeches stating the obvious at various universities that something must be done, but nothing has REALLY been done. If he would have put the kind of energy into student loan relief that he put into health care reform, we all might be buying houses, cars, having kids and those of us in our 30s would finally be able to move out of our parents' homes, but here we are, still having this conversation.

May God be with us.

Anonymous said...

It would seem that if Obama or Romney get elected, not much will change when it comes to student loans. FFELP was removed on Obama's watch, but Federal student loan volume is over $100 billion annually now. Is that actually an improvement?

If the Federal loan program would just stop approving loans for every person without a credit check, things would improve long term, but there would be short term consequences that no politician wants to go through.

Anonymous said...

I too, think that if Romney wins it will be just more of the same catering to big money influential people and institutions, (much like Obama).
Karl Ellwein

Geraldine said...

I am speechless. This can be an improbable blog and really partaking too. Great work! That is not likely much coming from an amateur blogger like me, however it's all I might assume after enjoying your posts. Nice grammar and vocabulary in contrast to different blogs. You actually know what you are talking about too. So much that you just made me want to learn more. Your blog has developed into a stepping stone for me, my fellow blogger. Thank you for the detailed journey.