Although I think I measure pretty close to the center of the political aisle, I consider myself to be a Conservative. And despite my willingness to vote for Democrats here and there, I’ve never really considered switching to the other side of the political aisle until recently.
The reason is Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and according to a recent article in the Washington Post, I’m not the only Conservative who admires her economic policies.
Senator Elizabeth Warren recently put a bill up for vote that would have given millions of people just like me student loan relief. Student loan consolidation has almost always been available to people in one form or another in the past, but while government-backed loans could typically be consolidated into private loans, Senator Warren’s bill would have allowed it to also work in reverse—private loans consolidated into government backed loans.
The difference between private and government student loans probably wouldn’t be that big of a deal if this were 2004 and we were all riding high in a strong economy. But times have changed and circumstances are different. In between my first and second years in law school, the economy tanked and it tanked hard in the legal field. Attorney positions seemed to dry up overnight and disappear forever. Opportunities at bigger firms were only available for a very small number of students. Many students were never able to find a legal job while the rest of us were able to scrounge up jobs at smaller to mid-sized firms where pay had been scaled way back. I was left with one such job and both government and private loans to repay.
Along with millions of other people who carry the weight of private loans, I struggle through the current economy trying to make the monthly payments. The added pressure for me is that the burden is crippling my ability to provide for my family, or, gasp!, purchase health insurance. Others out there might want the option of taking risks like opening small businesses, but simply can’t afford to even consider it.
In the end, Senator Warren’s bill was rejected by the Republicans. Why? Republicans believed that the bill would have only helped people who had higher earning potential (“potential” is the key to that sentence) and those people didn’t really need that kind of help. The other reason? Because the bill was tied to a tax hike on those who make more than a million dollars per year. The Republican’s reasoning implied that such a tax on rich people would have stifled the economy—in other words, those millionaires need help but the people with “potential” do not.
I’m tired of the games. I’m tired of the stance that seems to be proffered by Conservative pundits on a regular basis that because I was able to do it in the ’90s you should be able to do it, too. Times have changed. Circumstances have changed. The cost of attending school has skyrocketed and the rewards for going to school have plummeted. None of these people who went to school in the ’90s or before had to deal with any of these factors, and it’s time to show some compassion and give some of these people, people like me, who only have “potential” a bit of a helping hand. If Republicans aren’t willing to do it, maybe it’s time for me to move to a party that does.
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