Thursday, August 30, 2012
Question: I am recent law school graduate. Despite graduating from a top school, I find myself unemployed with a large student loan debt burden. While I’m sure my immediate prospects will improve in time, it’s difficult to be optimistic about the future knowing that my ability to live a productive life — to have a fulfilling career, to buy a house, to someday raise a family — is hampered by my debt and the bleak economic outlook for young people. I know that I’m not alone in feeling this way. Many of us are demoralized. Your 2008 campaign was successful in large part due to the efforts of younger demographics. We worked for you, we campaigned for you, and we turned out in record numbers to vote for you. What can I say to encourage those in similar situations as I am to show up again in November? What hope can you offer us for your second term?
President Obama's answer: I understand how tough it is out there for recent grads. You’re right – your long term prospects are great, but that doesn’t help in the short term. Obviously some of the steps we have taken already help young people at the start of their careers. Because of the health care bill, you can stay on your parent’s plan until you’re twenty six. Because of our student loan bill, we are lowering the debt burdens that young people have to carry. But the key for your future, and all our futures, is an economy that is growing and creating solid middle class jobs – and that’s why the choice in this election is so important. The other party has two ideas for growth – more taxs cuts for the wealthy (paid for by raising tax burdens on the middle class and gutting investments like education) and getting rid of regulations we’ve put in place to control the excesses on wall street and help consumers. These ideas have been tried, they didn’t work, and will make the economy worse. I want to keep promoting advanced manufacturing that will bring jobs back to America, promote all-American energy sources (including wind and solar), keep investing in education and make college more affordable, rebuild our infrastructure, invest in science, and reduce our deficit in a balanced way with prudent spending cuts and higher taxes on folks making more than $250,000/year. I don’t promise that this will solve all our immediate economic challenges, but my plans will lay the foundation for long term growth for your generation, and for generations to follow. So don’t be discouraged – we didn’t get into this fix overnight, and we won’t get out overnight, but we are making progress and with your help will make more.
Elie Mystal is not impressed:
It would have been better if Obama had just said, “I feel your pain,” and moved on to another question. In fact, that’s what Obama should have said, because Obama is one of the people out there that knows or should know exactly what this person was talking about. He’s been in debt — law school debt. He and his wife. He could only go off and do his low-paying “community organizing” gig because Michelle Obama put in the hard work of going to Sidley and paying some freaking bills.
Obama would probably still be in debt NOW if he hadn’t written two best sellers. Was that his back up answer to this law student? “I know you are struggling right now. Why don’t you quit whining about it and write a best selling book about your life that catapults you to national prominence and pays off all you debts in the bargain? Slacker.”
I can only assume that Obama’s own experience has blinded him to the reality law and other graduates students are facing with their debts. ...
Obama has covered a lot of political ground with his capacity for empathy, but he shows none when it comes to student debts. He doesn’t have any serious policy ideas, he can’t even engage with a question about the issue, and he seems completely unaware that the cost of higher education has skyrocketed since he went to school. He makes his stand at the altar of getting loan money into the hands of students, and then looks the other way while colleges and universities gouge those students (and ultimately the federal government) for all they’re worth.
When this student loan bubble bursts (and it will burst), Obama will have to own the fact that he stood by and answered questions on Reddit while the student loan industry burned.