Candidates Criticize Federal Student Loan Program at Wednesday Night’s GOP Debate

Posted by erik devaney

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Republican candidates gathered in Michigan on Wednesday night to participate in CNBC’s “Your Money, Your Vote” debate. The focus: solutions for the struggling economy.

The candidates – Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum — laid out plans for stimulating economic growth. Several common themes emerged throughout the course of the debate, including making tax rates flatter, repealing President Obama’s healthcare plan and avoiding government bailouts.

Another key issue that GOP candidates touched on was the nation’s growing student loan debt, which totals nearly $1 trillion.

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Texas Congressman Ron Paul was the first to be questioned on the student loan issue. The congressman had previously outlined a plan wherein the federal student loan program, as well as the Department of Education, would be eliminated.

“Anybody who’s ambitious enough will get to go to college,” Paul said on a recent airing of CNN’s State of the Union. “…Why should people who are laborers who never get to go to college, why should they be taxed to send some of us through college? So it’s not even a fair system when it works. But obviously it doesn’t work and that’s why it’s coming to an end.”

When given the chance to retract his statements at Wednesday night’s debate, Paul wouldn’t budge. Instead, Paul called the student loan program a “total failure” and warned that the nearly $1 trillion in student loan debt could be “dumped on the taxpayer.”

“There’s no authority in the Constitution for the federal government to be dealing with education,” said Paul. “We should get rid of the loan programs. We should get rid of the Department of Education and give tax credits, if you have to, to help people.”

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Former House speaker Newt Gingrich echoed some of Paul’s sentiments on the issue, calling the student loan debt program “an absurdity.”

“It expands the ability of students to stay in college longer because they don’t see the cost,” said Gingrich. “It allows them to tolerate tuition going up absurdly.”

When Texas Governor Rick Perry was asked what programs he would cut to reduce the federal deficit, he first referred back to an earlier stumble, when he forgot to include the Energy Department in his list of three agencies he’d eliminate (Education and Commerce being the other two).

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When asked if he would kill the student loan program, his response was that state governments should hold university boards more accountable.

“How do you force these universities to be more efficient?” Perry said, “We have to put powerful economic forces in place.”

GOP plans for dealing with the student loan issue contrast sharply with President Obama’s plan. As New England Post previously reported, Obama wants to improve the federal student loan program – not eliminate it – through lowering repayment amounts, forgiving debt sooner and allowing borrowers to consolidate loans.

Here’s a look at what the Twittersphere had to say about the issue of student loans in Wednesday night’s debate:

Related posts:

  1. Obama’s Plan for Student Loan Debt Relief: Lower Repayment Amounts, Forgive Debt Sooner, Allow Borrowers to Consolidate Federal Loans
  2. The Latest on Student Loan Debt Forgiveness: Exploring Opportunity Cost and Higher Ed Financing Reform
  3. A Closer Look at Obama’s New Plan for Student Loan Debt Relief: What Does an Economist Think?
  4. Forgiving Student Loan Debt as an Economic Stimulus; What Does a Local Economist Think?
  5. The Debt that Refuses to Disappear: What Happens to a Student Loan if You File for Personal Bankruptcy?

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Posted by erik devaney on Nov 10 2011. Filed under Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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