Beheersing studieschuld in USA

Nieuws | de redactie
10 juni 2014 | Als het om een leenstelsel gaat, zet Barack Obama alle zeilen bij om studieschulden omlaag te brengen. “Your parents know this is a smart investment. That’s why so many of them made such big sacrifices to make sure that you could get into college, and nagged you throughout your high school years.”

De president zette dit weekend zijn handtekening onder maatregelen die het leenstelsel in Amerika verder aan banden moeten leggen. In zijn wekelijkse toespraak via social media zette hij uiteen waarom dit juist nu, in een periode van economisch herstel, van groot belang is. Bij de officiële ceremonie sprak Obama over de fundamentele redenen, waarom hij vanaf de eerste dag van zijn presidentschap op dit punt actie werd.

Centrale thema

Hij onderbouwde dit onder meer met het volgende betoog: “The central tenet of my presidency, partly because of the story of my life and Michelle’s life, is this is a country where opportunity should be available for anybody — the idea that no matter who you are, what you look like, where you come from, how you were raised, who you love, if you’re willing to work hard, if you’re willing to live up to your responsibilities, you can make it here in America.”

“And in America, higher education opens the doors of opportunity for all.  And it doesn’t have to be a four-year college education.  We’ve got community colleges, we’ve got technical schools, but we know that some higher education, some additional skills is going to be your surest path to the middle class.  The typical American with a bachelor’s degree or higher earns over $28,000 more per year than somebody with just a high school education — 28 grand a year.  And right now, the unemployment rate for workers with a bachelor’s degree is about half of what it is for folks with just a high school education.”

Zeurende ouders

“So you know that this is a smart investment.  Your parents know this is a smart investment.  That’s why so many of them made such big sacrifices to make sure that you could get into college, and nagged you throughout your high school years.  (Laughter.)”

“Here’s the problem:  At a time when higher education has never been more important, it’s also never been more expensive.  Over the last three decades, the average tuition at a public university has more than tripled.  At the same time, the typical family’s income has gone up just 16 percent.”

“Michelle and I both went to college because of loans and grants and the work that we did.   But I’ll be honest with you — now, I’m old, I’ve got to admit — (laughter) — but when I got out of school, it took me about a year to pay off my entire undergraduate education.  That was it.  And I went to a private school; I didn’t even go to a public school.  So as recently as the ‘70s, the ‘80s, when you made a commitment to college, you weren’t anticipating that you’d have this massive debt on the back end.”

We know it works

Daarom neemt hij nu enkele maatregelen en ropet het Congres op een aanvullend wetsvoorstel goed te keuren. “I’m directing our Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, to give more Americans who are already making their loan payments a chance to cap those payments at 10 percent of their income.  We call it “Pay As You Earn.” 

“We know it works, because we’ve already offered it to millions of young people.  It’s giving graduates the opportunity to pursue the dreams that inspired them to go to school in the first place, and that’s good for everybody.  And we want more young people to start their own businesses.  We want more young people becoming teachers and nurses and social workers.  We want young people to be in a position to pursue their dreams.  And we want more young people who act responsibly to be able to manage their debt over time.”

Een no-brainer

Hij daagde zijn opponenten uit in hun stemgedrag te laten zien waar hun prioriteiten liggen. Het is immers verkiezingstijd in de USA, voor de belangrijke midterm elections in november waarin heel het Huis en een derde van de Senaat gekozen zal worden. “This week, Congress will vote on that bill.  And I want Americans to pay attention to see where their lawmakers’ priorities lie here:  lower tax bills for millionaires, or lower student loan bills for the middle class.”

Om het nog duidelijk te stellen, noemde Obama deze stemming zelfs “a no-brainer.”  De recente politieke historie vertelt een ander verhaal, zo moest hij toegeven. “Two years ago, Republicans in Congress nearly let student loan interest rates double for 7 million young people.  Last year, they tried to strip protections from lower-income students.  This year, House Republicans voted overwhelmingly to slash Pell grants and make it harder for thousands of families to afford college.”

“If you’re a big oil company, they’ll go to bat for you.  If you’re a student, good luck. Some of these Republicans in Congress seem to believe that it’s just because — that just because some of the young people behind me need some help, that they’re not trying hard enough.  They don’t get it.”

Kiezer laat het gebeuren

Daarbij wees hij op een stuk ‘politieke levenservaring’ die hij inmiddels had opgedaan en die ook voor het debat in ons land steeds weer goed is om in herinnering te roepen. “I’ve been in politics long enough to hear plenty of people, from both parties, pay lip service to the next generation, and then they abandon them when it counts.  And we, the voters, let it happen.”

“This is something that should be really straightforward, just like the minimum wage should be straightforward, just like equal pay for equal work should be straightforward.  And one of the things I want all the voters out there to consider, particularly parents who are struggling trying to figure out how am I going to pay my kid’s college education, take a look and see who is that’s fighting for you and your kids, and who is it that’s not.”   

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