By NEQEEN BEHDAD
In recent years, after having won the 2012 Massachusetts election for Senate against Republican Scott Brown, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D – Mass.) is not new to holding her ground in the political arena.
An advocate for consumer protection and managing personal finance, Warren introduced her own proposal last year on how to solve the issue of undergraduate and graduate loan debt that has grown increasingly prevalent in our nation.
However, Senator John Cornyn (R – Texas) worked to block the bill unless Warren agreed to the condition of unlimited amendments.
Last Wednesday, Senator Warren tried her hand at a loan rate proposal as an amendment to the Republican budget resolution; however, the Senate vote resulted in 46-53 against Warren’s proposed amendment.
The concept behind Warren’s amendment would allow students with substantial college loan debt to refinance at interest rates directly from 2013-2014 academic year.
Warren’s idea was that if millions of students are stuck paying interest rates between 6-10 percent or even higher, the bill would allow undergraduates to refinance their loans to 3.9 percent. The funding for the refinancing would come from a required 30 percent effective federal tax rate for millionaires.
In contrast, the Senate passed a different amendment related to student loans. Proposed by Senator Richard Burr (R – N.C.), the amendment aimed to achieve the same goal of simplifying loan repayment but through the reduction of overlapping programs.
Republican Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi (R – Wyo.) was one notable advocate against Warren’s proposed amendment, claiming that while action need to be taken on the issue of student loan debt, the budget resolution was not the right setting. Enzi claimed that this can neither “be done,” nor can one “have policy” on a budget bill resolution.
An intriguing response from Warren, who is currently declining calls to run for president, was her initial desire to bring an opportunity of real economic security to the middle class. After the vote on Wednesday, she responded, “the student debt problem got worse, much worse.” She has been known for stating, “Congress has worked too long for the billionaires.”
Benjamin Hermerding, a senior political science major and president of UMW Young Democrats, voiced his opinion on the Wednesday decision, stating, “I support [Warren’s] plan wholeheartedly…the Republicans year in and year out like to talk about the U.S. accumulated debt but refuse to acknowledge one of the highest debt that people owe, student debt.”
Hermerding used the Warren Buffett example in his argument that the upper class paying a smaller percentage than the middle class is “fundamentally unfair.” Hermerding is one of six siblings, all of whom will likely graduate with some kind of student debt.
On the contrary, College Republicans Chairman Nicole Tardif argued that the “redistribution of wealth is not the way to fix the issue of student debt” and said she believes that “the issue of college tuition should be left up to the states.”
However, Tardif echoed Hermerding’s sentiment about the rising issue of student loans.
“Why should someone who worked hard to get to where they are have to effectively pay for my education?” said Tardif.
Sophomore business major Michael Macleay commented on the issue, saying, “I, as a borrower myself, would like for my bills to be cheaper and not have as many loans to pay off, but I don’t feel that it is right for me to be living off of someone else’s dollar.”
For students pursuing further degrees, such as sophomore English and secondary education double major Shannon Coryell, student loans are particularly daunting.
“Especially, as a future educator who suspects that the graduate year is soon to be required, it would be very hard to pay back my loans in the near future,” said Coryell.
“Of course I would want to pay back lower interest rates, but I understand how this is not fair to ask of the upper class,” Coryell continued. “I agree that a lot of students are at the point where they need it. Students are at the point where they need financial help but I don’t know if this proposal would help solve the problem.”