Cross posted from In the (K)now blog
With all the hype surrounding Hillary Clinton’s new book rollout this week, it may seem her victory in 2016 is increasingly inevitable.
But the punditocracy is overlooking a significant concurrent development that could turn the conventional wisdom on its ear.
The same week as the headlines trumpeted the military precision of the Clinton machine, the White House embraced student loan reform – an idea first proposed over a year ago by freshman Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
If there is any meaningful threat to Clinton’s inevitability, this is where it lies: the Senator from Massachusetts already has an organic national constituency begging her to run.
While this week’s headlines are dominated by Clinton’s “Hard Choices” memoir and its relentless, ubiquitous rollout, Sen. Warren’s own book “A fighting chance” has been on the best seller lists for weeks.
Warren was first out of the gate on student loan reform. Her first piece of legislation, after her surprise trouncing of former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown in 2012, was on the topic, as we reported in May 2013 in Senator urges action on student loan crisis
“Her Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act would allow students who are eligible for federally subsidized Stafford loans to borrow at the same rate that big banks get through the Federal Reserve discount window.”That attempt was largely successful at preventing a massive hike in student loan interest rates last summer.
Her latest bill on student loans is now before the Senate as S. 2432, the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act
In a statement of administration policy released after President Obama’s press conference on the issue this week, the White House said:
“The Administration strongly supports passage of S. 2432, which would provide Americans with student loans the opportunity to refinance their loans at the lower interest rates available to current students.Despite this ringing endorsement and 44 cosponsors, Sen. Warren’s signature issue failed to move sufficient senators to get the bill to a floor vote on Wednesday, according to
“The legislation would benefit an estimated 25 million Americans and save a typical borrower $2,000 over the life of his or her loan. It would strengthen the economy by offering relief to Americans who are working hard to pay back their student loans and launch careers, start families, or buy homes.”
But this is just one battle in a continuing struggle.
With the election more than two years away, there is plenty of time for an upset.
From all the hype, it is easy to conclude the Clinton memoir is a carefully scripted paean to her time at the Department of State. Some have even described it as “boring,” others have called it “safe.”
In contrast, the Warren book is personable, folksy in tone and pugnacious in its treatment of those who shipped boatloads of cash to the banks without any strings attached while leaving financially troubled borrowers to fend for themselves.
Sen. Warren is unabashedly a populist. It is a refreshing change.
But political memories are short. Everyone seems to have forgotten that Hillary Clinton also seemed “inevitable” in 2008 – until an upstart from Illinois proved otherwise.
If there is a remote chance that anyone can challenge the emerging Clinton lock on the 2016 presidential race, it is embodied in Elizabeth Warren. Let’s all hope she is up to the challenge.