Congresswoman Virginia Foxx is the higher education subcommittee chair in Congress. A few months ago she stated on talk radio that she could not tolerate people who accumulated student debt from going to a public university. In the same interview she stated that when she had gone to school she had worked off her student debt. Now everything in that statement is true, she cannot tolerate students who accumulate debt, and yes she did work off her tuition bills. But what Virginia Foxx does not understand is the different amount of tuition we have to pay off now as students. She does not understand why exactly she was able to work off her loans while many students that try to now are mired in interest costs, and other fees. Virginia Foxx represents the generation of angry old white people that somehow demand that students do not demand the same amount of funding and services that the older generation had to take advantage of.
It is sad that Republicans made it a part of their national platform:
"The federal government should not be in the business of originating student loans; however, it should serve as an insurance guarantor for the private sector as they offer loans to students," the platform reads. "Private sector participation in student financing should be welcomed."
They openly encourage the creation of for profit colleges but it is even more of a contradiction. But this is an interesting part of the debate on higher education. It tries to define the Republicans who created this platform as people who pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps. If we look at the higher education budget cut hawks they went neither to colleges that were neither private nor for profit
Louie Gohmert TX 1st: Texas A&M University 1975 B.A
Virginia Foxx NC 5th: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill B.A 1968
Jim Semsenbrehnner WI 5th: University of Wisconsin Law School Juris Doctor 1968
Steve Womack AR 3th: Arkansas Technical University B.A 1979
Keep in mind that these people graduated from college at a time, when Pell grants funded 69% of tuition at all Universities both public and private.
Even if we look at Paul Ryan who went to a private University in Miami Ohio, he still saved money from federal benefits to go to college. So the question again becomes a rhetorical instrument of justification. Why is it ok that these Republicans and this generation were allowed to use tax dollars to go to Public Universities but ours cannot? These austerity politicians literally got into Congress because of the public system of higher education or funding from the federal government. Either way we look at it; these people are trying to redefine the goals of the federal government, because they try to redefine the causes of problems. Is it some sort of generational contradiction? To me it seems like the majority of Americans would like to have public universities funded and properly. Which is why President Obama won his second term, it was at the Democratic National Convention that the issue of affordable education was included in the national platform. It was the democratic congressman Hansen Clarke that introduced the “End Student Debt Act” into Congress, but these politicians will not compromise on the issue of student debt. It is this generation of Republicans that are trying to destroy the legacy of their party. If history is considered a measure of progress in Higher Education then it was President Lincoln a Republican who should be revered as the father of Modern Higher education through the land grant act.
This is the true problem of the crippling student debt situation in our country. The fact that a large part of the golden generation and baby boomers who lived through the prosperity of the New Deal programs. Virginia Foxx is one of the cases where elected Republicans are literally contradicting the way our education system works because of a false philosophical premise that even Republicans like Virginia Foxx did not use to “pull themselves from their bootstraps” In short these political arguments that we are having about student debt are not whether or not to “increase spending” on education. But whether or not to restore the prosperity of our nation by funding education through tuition payments and pell grants. We used to be the nation with the highest number of college graduates in the world, but at the same time Pell Grants covered 69% of tuition for the average students. Keeping in mind that tuition itself was on average $500 dollars a year for a student in the 1960s. It seems to me though that there is a structural problem with what exactly has happened with the issue of funding higher education.
So while we keep arguing our way over the issue on how to pay down the national debt. We keep forgetting what made our nation great which was an equalizing system of public education. Right now as it stands it would cost $73 Billion dollars to fund tuition free education for all American students in this generation. Roughly speaking that is 45% of the total yearly of the Bush tax cuts. It is less than 1/10th of the defense budget. This is a matter of national priority and security, because if our country is to be prosperous enough to maintain a skilled workforce then we need to address this issue. This is not a matter of rhetoric, the threat that student debt poses to our economy is very real. Recently graduated students cannot purchase on the same levels than previous generations that did not have student debt could. This attack on our purchasing power translates into the real economy of having less liquid capital for us the true job creators as a consumers to consume.
While Republicans keep talking about the crisis of our national debt, they go quiet when the conversation becomes about student debt. This rollback of our education should have been characterized as austerity, because that’s what it was. From Reagan to Virginia Foxx these politicians talk about prosperity like it is a measurement of success for students. Any economist can tell you that in order to have a prosperous economy you need two things a skilled workforce and the creation of work. In a consumption economy both of those require skilled workers and a process of constant industrialization. What the right keeps talking about is not an issue of the debt; it’s an issue of privatization and deindustrialization of our nation. As more and more factories and more unions are busted there is an interesting correlation on how much more difficult it is to get a college education. It used to be that a college degree was the great equalizer, but we should be ashamed as a nation that no longer is true completely. So the solution is either we fund education to have a functioning economy, or we do nothing and let the status quo continue. Spending less than half the money we spend on corporate subsidies and tax cuts we can make public education tuition free for all students and restore this great equalizer