Erixon is a junior politics and rhetoric double major and can be contacted at email@example.com
In the last week it has been encouraging to watch education policy, and student loan reform in particular, become visible issues in the presidential race. Almost everyone in the Republican field has come out in favor of eliminating the education department and drastically cutting student aid while Obama has recently announced a major policy shift on student loan reform.
The plan, known as “Pay As You Earn,” will help ease student loan burdens and makes it less difficult for graduates to repay their debts. Under the new policies, graduates will be able to cap their payments at 10% of their discretionary income and would create a path for loan forgiveness after 20 years of payments.
President Obama understands that having an educated population and workforce is vital to restoring our economy and rebuilding our middle class. That is why he has worked his entire presidency to reform our education system, by encouraging innovation with his Race to the Top program and through major investments in school construction and tuition assistance.
This plan is representative of Barack Obama’s long record of advancing the interests of students and young Americans. Everything from infrastructure spending and reform to education innovation is very much focused on building a new national future. As much as Barack Obama has made tough decisions to help repair the economy today, he has always had a much longer view of policy that took into account the long-term effects of our current policy debates.
Even as he strived to create shovel ready jobs in The Recovery Act he worked to invest in high-speed rail and other infrastructure improvements that will help modernize our economy. And now, with his American Jobs Act he is balancing the need to take immediate action to spur economic growth with the need to make major investments in the future of our economy, our workforce and our infrastructure.
Unfortunately the one thing that has consistently served as an impediment to this progress has been the Republican leadership in Washington. At each every step of the way, President Obama has presented fresh and innovative ideas to reform our system and bring about positive change, and every time he has been shot down by obstructionists in Congress who are solely interested in protecting the wealthy and the corporations.
While this gridlock has made for entertaining political theater, it does nothing to help the millions of jobless Americans who are bearing the consequences of the last decade of deregulation and tax polices that coddled the wealthy. These millions cannot wait for Congress to get its act together. They need help, they need reform, they need action, and they need it now. I applaud President Obama for taking the initiative and using his executive authority to provide some assistance to struggling Americans. I only hope that there were more politicians with that kind of political courage.