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Games of Loans

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By Atima Omara and James Lewis


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Last week, the President used the power of his pen to make student loans a little more affordable for an estimated five million debt-laden Americans while Republicans in the Senate killed an effort to allow student-loan refinancing.

The Obama administration wants to provide the opportunity to cap the repayment amount on their federal direct student-loan payments at ten percent of their income by the end of 2015.

The President's action shows clear leadership and commitment to the issue. However, the White House needs Congressional support to address the more than $1 trillion in student loan debt that is crippling the American economy.

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The Iron Bank of Braavos can tell you those figures aren't helpful to growing the economy. If America wants to ensure our long-term economic vitality, we need to invest in creating an educated population prepared to compete in a 21st century, high-tech, global economy.

Despite the skyrocketing cost of college, higher education remains the single most effective investment to promote the future economic stability and success for a young person.

As college costs rise, many low and middle-income families find it more and more difficult to pay for higher education. Over the past three decades, since 1980, the average cost of tuition at a public university has more than tripled, while a typical family's income has hardly budged.

These factors have resulted in a Red Wedding scale crisis for the entire U.S. economy -- including students, parents, and yes, even the children of students.

More and more young people are delaying major economic investments, like purchasing a home, saving for retirement, and making the big purchases that drive the American economy. Young people are putting off purchasing homes, cars, and even getting married. Debt has made many of these economic investments difficult to acquire for young people because they do not wish to add more debt or lack strong credit.

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The President's expansion of relief for five million indebted borrowers is a great first step; it needs to be the first step of many.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would have allowed individuals that have borrowed from the federal government to refinance their student loans at lower rates.

Nearly every other type of loan can be refinanced, from a mortgage to car payment. Why wouldn't student loans be able to be refinanced as post-college young people start to build their careers and lives?

With more than seventy percent of college graduates have student-loan debt and the average debt load is nearly $30,000, more than some starting salaries, this bill could have helped someone in your life.

The GOP blocked the proposal, which would have been paid for by closing tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires. It would implement the "Buffet Rule," which ensures millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share in taxes.

In effect, the Senate refinancing bill would have made sure folks like Tywin Lannister paid their fair share and allowed young people to refinance their loans and contribute to America's economic prowess.

Instead, the GOP killed the measuring, preferring to give tax breaks to Lannisters instead of helping young people more effectively manage their investment in his/her and our nation's economic future.

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James Lewis is a former Senior Policy/National Security Analyst at the Washington-based think-tank, Robert Weiner Associates. He has also worked for Student Conservation Association as a Crew Leader engaging low-income urban students in a summer (more...)
 
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