Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Quick post about Obama's Middle Class Task Force's Telephone Conference Today

The house is empty and we're heading across country tomorrow, but I was still able to be a part of a critical conference call with the White House today. (Many thanks to SponsorChange.org for letting me know about this important discussion). It was a discussion with the Middle Class Task Force.

Jared Bernstein started the discussion. After he spoke, the call was opened for questions. (Incidentally, Bernstein was on the Board of Directors at United Professionals. He stepped down when he was appointed as an economic advisor to Vice President Joe Biden).

With the four initiatives discussed today, I was quite encouraged by the fact that the student lending crisis (my term, not theirs) was mentioned as NO. 2. That's big. (All of our work together is making a HUGE difference, so I want to thank all of you for writing and writing and writing. Keep it up!).

I was able to ask a question about Sherrod Brown's debt swap proposal, and tried to make it clear that I think that there ought to be attention paid to debtors who are not recent grads. While I thought my ultimate question was pretty straightforward, Bernstein didn't follow.

There was too much emphasis on accessibility to higher education and on how to help recent graduates. Nevertheless, I am encouraged by the Administration's turn toward discussing the issue of financing higher education and the unmanageable levels of student loan debt with which students are burdened (that so-called "form letter," as a very ungracious poster wrote obviously meant and means something).

I am glad I was able to ask the question directly to Bernstein.

It was an honor and a privilege to be a voice for student loan debtors on a direct phone call to the White House. I look forward to being a part of more conversations like this one in the future.


medicinesux said...

That is awesome news Cryn! At long last, people in Washington are finally starting to wake up to this ever worsening student loan bubble. I applaud you for inquiring about the debt swap bill by the way. My greatest fear in all this is that borrowers who took out highly toxic private student loans will be forgotten and continue to suffer for years without any help. To be able to reconsolidate private loans into federal loans would immensely help the middle class in my opinion and would be an immense stimulus in this current economic climate. Thanks again for tirelessly fighting on behalf of so many Americans who found themselves caught up in this crisis while just trying to educate and better themselves. Have a safe trip cross country! Your absence is truly America's loss.

Anonymous said...

That's a great opportunity for you, Cryn, and good news for our cause. I'm disappointed that Bernstein (echoing Obama's letter) focused on access and on supporting recent grads. The point that I hope is seen by the administration is that the rules by which Sallie Mae and others operate have allowed literally the doubling and more of amounts owed by former students who have struggled for years just to stay out of default.

Tim Lacy said...

Cryn: Thanks for noting non-recent grads and the "older folks" still laboring under large student loan debt. - TL

Theresa said...

I read the NYT article on the upcoming State of the Union Address...apparently Obama is going to propose a 10% cap on FEDERAL loan payments. Nothing was mentioned regarding private loans.

Cryn, THANK YOU for this blog, and for your unyielding fight and coverage of this problem. PLEASE keep pushing for new regulations regarding private loans...they are, in my opinion, more predatory and cause much more hardship for graduates than federal loan payments.

It frustrates me that our elected officials seem to be blind to these lenders' horrendous practices...especially Sallie Mae. Then again, SM probably has them in their back pocket.

Nando said...

Like much "reform" coming from Washington, I anticipate that this will be a band-aid remedy. Obama is great in speeches, and weak on action. We need to realize that tuition increases are FAR outpacing inflation. Wages have also been stagnant for about 3 decades now. This is unsustainable.

So, of course, the solution from our "brilliant leaders" is to put some putty on a crack in the Hoover Dam!


Spekkio said...

I'm disappointed to hear that you think my previous "form letter" comment was "ungracious." I was sharing my honest assessment, and I stand by my comment. Admittedly, the letter was not as bad as the form letters I get from Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) - his most recent response to a message I sent him in support of abortion rights (via one of the interest groups) told me how awful abortion is and how he has fought against it, but he'll "keep my comments in mind." (Uh-huh.)

That said, the talk of the student loan relief proposal coming out of the aforementioned Task Force is heartening - I just wonder if it can pass through Congress.

As for Mr. Bernstein, I am decidedly unimpressed with him after his poor performance on last night's "Rachel Maddow Show." She kept bringing up substantive issues she sees with the "budget freeze" proposal, and he kept missing the point and going back to his talking points.

Cryn Johannsen said...

Spekkio - I wasn't referring to you. Someone named "Anonymous" posted about me being a "giddy school girl" about the letter I received from the White House. If you check the previous post, you'll see to whom I am referring. They also told me I was narcissistic. So, that remark was not in anyway directed toward you.

Spekkio said...

Fair enough.

Did you see Mr. Bernstein on TRMS? I'm wondering what your take is, since you've spoken with him.

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