Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s first piece of legislation giving students the same rights as big banks is a reminder to the rest of the United States Senate of who they are supposed to be working for.
Video of Warren introducing her bill on the Senate floor:
Sen. Warren said, “Some people say that we can’t afford to help our kids through school by keeping student loan interest rates low,” said Senator Warren. “But right now, as I speak, the federal government offers far lower interest rates on loans, every single day – they just don’t do it for everyone. Right now, a big bank can get a loan through the Federal Reserve discount window at a rate of about 0.75%. But this summer a student who is trying to get a loan to go to college will pay almost 7%. In other words, the federal government is going to charge students interest rates that are nine times higher than the rates for the biggest banks – the same banks that destroyed millions of jobs and nearly broke this economy. That isn’t right. And that is why I’m introducing legislation today to give students the same deal that we give to the big banks.”
Warren later continued, “Big banks get a great deal when they borrow money from the Fed. In effect, the American taxpayer is investing in those banks. We should make the same kind of investment in our young people who are trying to get an education. Lend them the money and make them to pay it back, but give our kids a break on the interest they pay. Let’s Bank on Students… Unlike the big banks, students don’t have armies of lobbyists and lawyers. They have only their voices. And they call on us to do what is right.”
Technically her bill is about loan rates, but Sen. Warren is also making a moral argument about who our government really works for. Warren’s legislation is based on the belief that the Senate, and the entire U.S. government should work for the people. She is challenging the hypocrisy behind the fact that students pay an interest rate that is nine times higher than that paid by the big banks.
America’s values have remained the same, but our government’s values have changed. President Obama has his heart in the right place, but even he has nominated way too many individuals from big business and corporate America to serve in his cabinet. (I understand that because of Republican opposition the president has to do this, but it still impacts the values that shape the administration’s policy priorities.)
What many Americans may not understand is that all legislation is at some level a statement of values. When House Republicans propose cuts in healthcare and food assistance for millions children elderly people, they are sending the message that they don’t value those programs and the people who need them. When Speaker Boehner suggested that we need to pay China before we pay our troops, he was expressing his values. (In his case, foreign bondholders before American soldiers.)
Sen. Warren introduced legislation that was designed to test the values of her Senate colleagues.
Warren’s point was that the Senate should be working hard for the people, not the big banks and corporations.
The battle that Warren and the Democrats need to win is over student loan rates. The discussion that will set the future course for this country is centered on values.
If Democrats like Sen. Warren can get a majority of the nation to agree that with their argument that government should value the 99% of people who aren’t super rich more than the value the wealthy and corporations, our future will be bright and our nation will again realize its full potential for greatness.
Sen. Warren is fighting to restore our voice to the Senate.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association