. . . my office can only provide you with form letters, but I hope you think that's cute and helpful!
In my last post, "What's all this fuss about?," I mentioned Sen. Webb's disappointing response to my letter to his office about the student lending crisis. Several readers have already told me that they also wrote to his office (I posted that piece about an hour ago and have already received 5 remarks about Webb's unresponsiveness). So, uh, I guess I was lucky, because I received a form letter from him. These individuals received nothing in response. Moreover, I was asked to post his letter, so here it goes (in the original response, you can see how formulaic responses/code paragraphs were inserted - in my mind - willynily) :
Feb. 18, 2010
Dear Ms. Johannsen:
Thank you for contacting my office regarding student loans and the increasing costs of higher education. I appreciate your taking the time to share your views.
I understand the difficulties that students and their families face as they struggle to cope with the growing costs of higher education. In recent years, student debt levels have increased substantially as average tuition and fees at many colleges and universities have gone up faster than inflation. Starting in early 2008, trouble in the capital markets led many lenders to raise interest rates and curtail their lending, making it harder for many students to obtain the loans they need to attend college.
With my support, the U.S. Senate passed several important bills to address these issues and ensure that more students have access to affordable loans. I am pleased to inform you that I supported the bipartisan American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1), which was passed by the Senate and signed into law (P.L. 111-5) by President Obama on February 17, 2009. The legislation offers critical investments in education to improve the quality of our education system and help more students to afford the costs of higher education. The Recovery Act creates a new American Opportunity Tax Credit of up to $2,500 and increases the maximum Pell Grant level by $500. These measures will allow 4 million students to receive a new higher education tax credit and 7 million students to receive increased Pell Grant funding.
During the 110th Congress, the Senate passed the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act on April 30, 2008, and the President signed it into law on May 7, 2008 (P.L. 110-227). This legislation increases the annual and aggregate limits for Stafford loans, helps ensure the availability of loan capital to meet the demand of student loans, delays the start of repayment for some borrowers, and updates rules for lender-of-last-resort (LLR) loans. Finally, with my support, the Senate passed the Higher Education Authorization bill and the President signed it into law on August 14, 2008 (P.L. 110-315). This law increases need-based aid for students, simplifies the financial aid process, and, among other things, provides loan forgiveness for students who work in public service. While these measures are helpful, I will continue to support legislation that will increase access to higher education for all Americans.
As the Senate continues to address student loans and the cost of higher education, your views are very helpful to me. Please be assured my staff and I will closely monitor these issues and any pending legislation, with your specific views in mind. I hope that you will continue to share your thoughts with us in the years ahead.
I would also invite you to visit my website at www.webb.senate.gov for regular updates about my activities and positions on issues that are important to Virginia and our nation.
Thank you once again for contacting my office.
United States Senator
So much for Jim Webb the rising star. Glad he was on the front lines (well, after Howard Dean) of making it OK to criticize George Bush and still be an American. But his staff appear to be lacking in all faculties of critical thought if this is the response that was hobbled together.
I'm being kind.
This response reminds me of the advertisement for Microsoft's new search engine, Bing. In the ad, an ordinary phrase in conversation give way to a stream of nonsequitors that merely include the same phrase but entirely without connection to the point of the conversation.
Hey, Senator Webb! It's "indentured educated class", in debt over the course of years due to laws that so favor education lenders that PRINCIPAL can actually grow in increments that exceed the size of the original loans.
So, do ya SEE how that's entirely different than the issue of current college affordability, or current and ongoing availability of programs like Pell and Stafford?
Yeah, DIFFERENT. Now why don't you get your staff to actually THINK before they hit , , and on those desktop keyboards when replying to a letter.
Cynically and apoplectically,
I'm really glad I came across your blog. Good work with the student loan crisis. We need more people like you. Thanks for helping us students out.
Great a form letter....wonderful! He doesn't seem to mention much about us who are already done with school and trying to pay the loans. He seems more interested in getting more students in there to take loans out with a little bit of help.
Thanks Cryn, I never got anything back yet from my letter. I imagine they are on top of it though.
Summary of Jim Webb's letter: "I want you to think I'm on your side, but you're on your own. Piss off."
"Proud" Virginia resident here!
It's bad enough that our governor and Lt. Gov'r are idiots (Google "McDonnell" and "Confederate History Month" or "Cuccinelli" and "lapel pin" and you'll get an idea). Now we have THIS guy.
I need to move...
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