Democrats are on the offense and will be holding Republicans accountable for their votes on the GOP budget with an aggressive “Republican Accountability Project: Diplomas Not Debt!” campaign.
In a conference call held Thursday with reporters, Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), said that the DCCC will go after Republicans, reminding millennials that Republicans want to them “to walk off the stage with debt, not a diploma.”
Congressman Luján charged that Democrats will be informing students, “Republicans are not on your side.” He added, “House Republicans have prioritized tax breaks for special interests over funding for federal student grants and other programs.” Luján said if people need proof, just look at the budget Republicans just passed and that nearly all House Republicans voted for. It is “an assault on college affordability” and Pell Grants are in jeopardy.
This isn’t just talk. A DCCC aide informed me that Democrats are going to stalk (my word) Republicans with their budget votes over the next month. As Republicans who voted for the GOP budget speak at high school and college graduations in their districts, the DCCC will use paid and earned media to ensure that students and families are aware that those Republicans voted to make college less affordable. Democrats will target students where they are, with ads in campus newspapers and even on Pandora.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Chair of the Future Forum, said, “Not a single Republican is going to tell the truth about what they are doing regarding debt for students.” Swalwell elaborated that much of the student loan debt is federal debt, which means that Congress is in position to do something about the problem — specifically Congress could offer programs to refinance the debt or discharge it in bankruptcy.
“I’m very passionate about this issue. I still have about $100,000 student loan debt,” the Democratic Congressman said, explaining that he knows how “it affects every single decision” people make, and it’s not getting better, it’s getting worse.
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), a Member of the Future Forum, said, “Young voters expect real answers for what is a national crisis.” Moulton explained that the Republicans cut federal student loan funding when Congress should be working to make college more affordable, not less.
“It’s become a moral question, it’s not right to be saddled with debt,” Moulton argued, adding that it’s also an economic problem, as graduates saddled with debt aren’t starting new business, or putting money into the economy.
What’s all of the fuss about and is it just partisan griping? After all, when confronted with reality, Congressman David Young (R-MI)’s office said he “voted to sustain Pell Grants for the next 10 years.” That’s one way of putting it, if you believe that eliminating mandatory funding for Pell Grants is a vote to “sustain” them.
The disturbing truth is that the Republican budget is an assault on student loan programs and efforts to make college more affordable. These cuts are made in direct service to tax cuts to the wealthy and top 2%.
The Republican budget eliminates mandatory funding for Pell Grants, which means the House gets to vote on whether or not they want to fund Pell Grants. Based on what Republicans tried to do with Social Security Disability, this means the grants would exist, they just wouldn’t fund them. Hence, yes they voted to “sustain” them — they just won’t be funding them. LOL, “sustain”.
The Republican budget also eliminates or, as they say, “allows to expire”, additional changes made to two important programs, including “Pay As You Earn” and Income-Based Repayment. This gets tricky, which is why Republicans get away with it. They are not doing away with the program itself. They are tweaking the math. These are income driven repayment programs that do things like allowing the person to pay based on 10% of their discretionary income instead of basing it on the previous figure of 15% of their income. Republicans are going back to the previous figure. “Sustaining.” LOL.
The Republican budget also cuts the American Opportunity Tax Credit.
The reason so few people are aware of what is happening surrounding an issue that will greatly impact their lives is that Republicans like to avoid discussing issues. They would rather discuss conspiracies (see the relentless redoing of Benghazi investigations and Clinton Cash), because it helps them avoid policy discussions.
Democrats aren’t going to take it without a fight. They are on the warpath and will focus on what they call the “One Term Wonders” – a group of the 17 most vulnerable Republican freshmen, determined to hold Republicans accountable for their budget.
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