Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Clinton College Conundrum

Hillary Clinton's new plan this week to invest in higher education and tackle student loan debt is ambitious, bold, and comprehensive.

It also has zero chance whatsoever of becoming law.

At the heart of the plan, dubbed the New College Compact, is an incentive program that would provide money to states that guarantee "no-loan" tuition at four-year public universities and community colleges. States that enroll a high number of low- and middle-income students would receive more money, as would those that work with schools to reduce living expenses. Because Pell grants, a form of federal aid for students from families making less than $60,000, are not included in the no-debt calculation, Clinton anticipates lower income students could use that money to cover books, as well as room and board. 
Although Clinton doesn't mention the word "free" in her proposal, the basic foundation is the same as legislation Sanders introduced in May that would eliminate tuition at four-year public colleges through federal investment. But instead of taxing Wall Street transactions as Sanders has proposed, Clinton would close tax loopholes to pay for her plan.

A senior Clinton campaign official said the candidate would reinstitute Ronald Reagan-era cuts on itemized tax deductions for high-income families. The $350 billion would cover all facets of the far-reaching proposal over 10 years. More than half of the total would be used to increase state investment in higher education, a third would cover the cost of lowering the interest rates on student loans and the rest would support the other initiatives. 
To improve the nation's 60 percent college graduation rate, Clinton would offer grants to schools that invest in child care, emergency financial aid and other interventions to boost completion. Students entering college are older and have more family responsibilities than those a generation ago, yet many institutions have been slow to respond to their needs. Investing in on-campus support systems could help, as could Clinton's proposal to allow federal student aid to be used for online career training programs offering badges or certificates, rather than degrees. 
Among the many policy proposals included in the compact are ideas that liberal and conservative lawmakers have agreed on, including simplifying the application for financial aid and consolidating student loan repayment plans. Clinton is also backing a controversial bipartisan proposal to have colleges pay a portion of the debt when students default on school loans, and planning to use the proceeds to pay for some of her initiatives.

This is an amazing reform of our higher education system to make it affordable and effective for a new generation.

And every single Republican will work to destroy the plan, so unless the white paper on this includes a detailed plan to get Democrats elected at the state level to reverse gerrymandering, so that Dems can win back the House and get 60 solid votes in the Senate, not one single Clinton initiative will ever become law under her administration.

It's up to her to articulate her plan to win back Congress.

Same goes for Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley, or you're just wasting my time and my vote.

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