My favorite part of President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech last night was the following:
tax credits, grants, and better loans, we have made college more
affordable for millions of students and families over the last few
years. But taxpayers cannot continue to subsidize the soaring cost of
higher education. Colleges must do their part to keep costs down, and
it’s our job to make sure they do. Tonight, I ask Congress to change
the Higher Education Act, so that affordability and value are included
in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid. And
tomorrow, my Administration will release a new 'College Scorecard' that
parents and students can use to compare schools based on a simple
criteria: where you can get the most bang for your educational buck."
like this because President Obama recognizes the importance of
providing people with the financial means to go to college, and yet he
is sensitive to the issue of how much this would cost the taxpayers, if
something is not done. I'm all for Pell Grants and student loans. When
Pell Grants get cut, that impacts whether or not a number of students
would be able to go to college, and so I oppose budgets (such as the
sorts that certain Republicans have proposed in the past) that cut Pell
Grants. And yet, many conservatives have argued----and I believe
legitimately----that grants and loans can actually increase tuition, for
many colleges and universities will raise their prices to get more
access to that loan and grant money from students. President Obama
realizes that colleges and universities should be doing their part to
keep costs down, while also providing an excellent education. I'm
reminded of something that I saw about higher education on Fox News
several years ago (back when I was a conservative): Newt Gingrich was
hosting the program, and he was discussing ways to bring down the cost
of higher education. What I remember was that Newt argued that colleges
can cut out a lot of their plush, which may look good but which has
little to do with education.
that President Obama is taking action on higher education----assuming
that his Administration actually is releasing that College Scorecard
that guides people on how to "get the most bang for [their] educational
buck." Moreover, I hope that the Congress acts on President Obama's
proposal to change the Higher Education Act. Republicans love to talk
about the need to reduce or restrain government spending. Well, maybe
they should work with the President and find ways to restrain the cost
of higher education, which ends up costing the government money!
In the Republican response, Marco Rubio said:
believe in federal financial aid. I couldn’t have gone to college
without it. But it’s not just about spending more money on these
programs; it’s also about strengthening and modernizing them...We need
student aid that does not discriminate against programs that
non-traditional students rely on – like online courses, or degree
programs that give you credit for work experience. When I finished
school, I owed over 100,000 dollars in student loans, a debt I paid off
just a few months ago. Today, many graduates face massive student debt.
We must give students more information on the costs and benefits of the
student loans they’re taking out."
When Rubio said that, I
thought, "Hey, didn't you hear the President, Mr. Rubio? He himself
said that we shouldn't just be spending more money on these programs!"
Maybe Rubio was responding to a straw-person, or perhaps he just made
that point about not just spending more money in order to set the stage
for him to expound upon his ideas about higher education. In any case,
it would be nice if Republicans and Democrats could work together on
this issue, since they both appear to be concerned about it.
that attracted me to Obama in 2008 (even though I went on to vote for
McCain-Palin) was his openness to conservative ideas and arguments.
Nowadays, people argue that Obama is no longer like that but is more
belligerently progressive, after a season of being burnt by his
Republican opposition. I happen to like both Obamas: the one who is
open to the other side, and the one who stands up for what he believes
is right, regardless of what anyone thinks. In my opinion, there is
still some of that old Obama, the one who sees validity even in what
conservatives have to say.