The interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans is set to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 on July 1 unless both houses of Congress approve a bill declaring new rates.
And if that wasn't bad enough, consider the basement-level interest rates that banks have to pay - just 0.75 percent, a rate they will continue to pay without interruption, either.
So who is Congress representing, actually? Their constituents, who need these loans to accommodate the ever-increasing cost of tuition? Or are they only serving their corporate donors?
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has introduced a "Bank on Students" bill that would not only prevent this doubling of interest rates, but would also give students the same three-quarters-of-one-percent rate that's paid by corporations.
There are other bills addressing student loans prior to this July 1 deadline, but they don't offer the needed terms. Those bills either leave the rate at 3.4 percent, make it subject to a variable rate, or even set it at the high 6.8 percent rate.
Even keeping it the same isn't helping students, though. Tuition rates have gone up about a third overall since 2002, and the total student loan debt is now more than the amount owed on mortgages and car loans combined.
Just like today's students need help, so does Warren's plan. Through a directory website,persons who want Congress to support the "Bank on Students" bill can enter their home addresses to receive the telephone and fax numbers of their senators and congressional representative, as well as links to the contact forms on their websites. Another directoryoffers Twitter account informationfor members of Congress. Be sure to let them know your support!
Dr. Chris Lamb, a professor of Communication at the College of Charleston, composed the following entry that recently appeared on OpEdNews.
If no budget deal is reached between Congress and President Barack Obama by the end of the year, the United States will face what Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke described as "a massive fiscal cliff of large spending cuts and tax increases."
We know the seriousness of this situation because no news program goes more than 10 minutes without telling us the seriousness of the situation.
The closest historical precedence for anything like the "fiscal cliff" is found in the 1984 movie, "Ghostbusters" -- when the ghostbusters inform the mayor of New York that the city is threatened by a disaster of biblical proportions:
Mayor: What do you mean, "biblical"?
Dr. Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath of God type stuff.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Exactly.
Dr. Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!
Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes . . .
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave!
Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!
The news media have told us that the failure to avoid the fiscal cliff will result in--and make no mistake about it--a serious situation. They've reported that there will be an immediate tax increase on most earners and massive cuts to government programs, the defense budget, and Medicare.
But this is just the stuff they're telling us. Could it mean the end of the world? It might just be worse than that.
Here is a partial list of what will happen if Congress and the president don't agree to a budget deal before January 1, 2013.
-- The United States will convert to the metric system.
-- Replacement refs will return to the National Football League.
-- Congress will repeal the laws of gravity, leaving thousands of other bills up in the air.
-- The National Anthem will change from the "Star-Spangled Banner" to "Everybody Wang Chung Tonight."
-- Hours will have 61 - minutes.
-- All prime-time television programs will be required to include at least one appearance by a member of the Kardashian family.
-- Cell phones will only work in South Dakota.
-- Supreme Court justices will exchange their traditional robes for hoodies, low-rider jeans, tank tops, and doo rags and write their decisions in rap.
-- The letter "e" will be removed from the alphabt.
-- You will only be able to buy shoes for left feet and socks for right feet.
-- Olivia Newton-John will marry former major league pitcher Tommy John, divorce him, marry singer Wayne Newton, divorce him and then marry chef Jamie Oliver. She will become Olivia Newton-John-John-Newton-Oliver.
-- Texting will end, forcing millions of Americans to talk to each other.
-- Texas and Arizona will be returned to Mexico, which will then pass repressive anti-immigrant legislation.
-- "Human Sacrifice, Dogs and Cats Living Together . . . Mass Hysteria."
Chris Lamb is a professor of Communication at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC. His last book was The Sound and Fury of Sarah Palin (Frontline Press). This entry was first posted on OpEdNews, and is included here with Lamb's permission.
Examine the bills in your wallet. You’ll see the year that paper money was printed in the bottom-right, to the immediate left of the treasurer’s signature. It’s hard to find a $1 bill that was printed before 2000, and they only last an average of 4.7 years, GAO says.
Now scoop the coins out of your pocket and you’ll likely find some made in the 1980’s. In fact, coins typically last 30 years – over six times longer than paper $1 bills.
This reduction in printing costs isn’t the chief savings benefit, though; the net benefit of $4.4 would result from seigniorage – “the difference between the cost of producing coins or notes and their face value,” says GAO’s report.
Every paper bill costs 9.6 cents to make currently, and after a recent 50-percent increase in production costs. Producing a dollar coin would be notably less, GAO says. “It reduces government borrowing and interest costs, resulting in a financial benefit to the government.”
Many other countries know of this first-hand. When it introduced a $1 “loonie” coin over a five-year period beginning in 1987, Canada saved $450 million in comparative paper-money printing and replacement costs. It introduced a $2 “toonie” in 1996, too. And Canadians had no complaints about these dollar coins.
A $1 coin might not be so popular here in the U.S., though, and which GAO acknowledged in Thursday’s testimony.
“We realize that replacing the $1 note with the $1 coin is controversial,” GAO director Lorelei St. James said. “In fact, public opinion has consistently been opposed to the $1 coin.”
Citing a 2006 Gallup poll, St. James noted that 76 percent of Americans state opposition to $1 bill replacement by coins.
Of the $1 coins currently minted, over 40 percent are returned to the government unused, causing the U.S. Treasury to reduce their production last year.
About $8 million would need to be spent on a public promotion campaign, St. James said, should the coin-replacing-bill proposal go into effect.
A 17-minute take on the first three years of President Obama's term was released yesterday.
Produced by Davis Guggenheim and narrated by Tom Hanks, "The Road We've Traveled" was screened at about 300 locations last night, and is now available for viewing right here on ROBservations.
It covers the trials our country was facing right before Obama took office, and the methods, negotiations and strategies he used to address those situations, such as the bankrupt state of the auto industry, a national economy on the verge of collapse, soaring unemployment and an ever-growing need for improvement in healthcare availability.
It details the successful responses Obama made in addressing those crises, too.
2. The condition of being full, ample, or complete
And in the theme of this video created by the Center for a New American Dream, plenitude also means creating more jobs while reducing environmental impact at the same time, and through interrelated avenues.
No, it doesn't "trickle," says economist and former Sec. of Labor Robert Reich.
And the national economy will never get better if we keep believing those so-called recovery tools that do nothing but favor wealth; in fact, those GOP platform pieces would only bring the country down upon its knees even further.