Senate Republicans Have Had It With These College Kids And Their Luxurious Student Loans

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A couple of Republican senators have finally figured out how to reduce the cost of higher education: Yell at college students who keep blowing their student loan money on nice things that they do not deserve. Like weed and porn, probably.


At a March meeting with constituents in Wisconsin, Sen. Ron Johnson explained that college costs are mostly going up because student loans are plentiful, and students are having so much fun that they postpone finishing by two or three years:

Today, there are different studies on this but somewhere between five and a half to six years is the average length of time it takes somebody to get a four-year degree. Why is that? I'd argue, well, loans are actually pretty easy to get and college is a lot of fun. All three of my kids went to Madison and I guarantee you, they had a really good time, particularly that first year of college," he said.

And to make matters worse, the federal government has blown tons of money enabling these laggards. If they want to spend decades in college, they should go be characters in Doonesbury (at least before the hiatus):

"A lot of government's well-intentioned programs actually have a very negative unintended consequence... The federal government got involved the way it always gets involved, it threw money at the problem," he said. "We've thrown, given hundreds of millions of dollars in grant money to people we want to have a college education, but we've also enticed our children by subsidizing loans, we've enticed them to incur about $1.3 trillion in debt."

Johnson continued on to argue that students think that "It's kind of free money, young people don't necessarily understand finance."

It's not really free money when kids are going broke trying to pay it back, but Republican senators don't necessarily understand finance either. At least he refrained from reminiscing about the good old days when he kept his LP's in a milk crate that he'd grabbed from behind the grocery store, and made a dorm bookcase out of cinder blocks and boards that he'd stolen from a construction site, the way you're supposed to in college.

And then, in a hearing last week on proposed regulations on for-profit colleges -- which touched on the rolling disaster that was the Corinthian Colleges scam, and the loan payment strike by former Corinthian students -- Sen. Roy Blunt explained that if students would just stop living it up like la-tee-daa Welfare Queens with their excessively high "living standards," there'd be no student debt problem:

We ought to be talking about ... the debt problem when you get out of school. How much of that related to the actual cost of going to school and how much it related to what you thought your living standards should be while you went to school, and I'm pretty confident over the years that the student expectations for their personal living standards in school have often increased where they would have been a few just years ago.

Here's a funny thing, for certain values of "funny": Roy Blunt has received generous campaign donations from for-profit colleges, including Corinthian. And so it only makes sense that, just like several spokespeople from for-profit schools have also argued, he thinks the real problem with student debt isn't that the schools are peddling worthless degrees, paid for by federal loans, grants, and veterans benefits. No, the problem is too many students whooping it up instead of studying hard for their overpriced, nontransferable "college" credits.

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Which is not to say that, yes, some of the cost increases for higher education have been driven by campuses building pricey new recreation palaces and dorms that look more like luxury condos than the Spartan accommodations a lot of us Olds remember. Odd, though -- one of the reason those amenities are so common is that they're very useful in attracting students, so the "amenities arms race" is one of those supply/demand things that we hear are one of the best things about a market economy, right? Also, while it's a huge oversimplification to blame rising college costs on any one factor, there's no doubt that a lot of the increased price tag has come from turning higher education into a business, rather than a service, with administrator salaries that rival corporate CEOs', not to mention the tiny matter of Sportsball programs with budgets that rival some small nations'.

Oh, and as for debt relief? After blaming spendthrift college students for increasing education costs, both Blunt and Johnson voted against a bill to allow refinancing student loans at lower rates. Shouldn't be a problem, unless of course a lot of them start defaulting. Besides, if students have trouble paying for college, they could always sell some stock like Mitt Romney did.

[Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee / The Hill / HuffPo / Forbes / Brookings Institute / Freddie DeBoer]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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