Seeing through the fog

There were two excellent articles appearing in the Sunday newspapers.  One was an article by Francis Wilkinson writing for Bloomberg View and the second by Kevin Carey written for the Sunday New York Times.

In the Wilkinson’s column, the question posed was, “If the Tea Party is dying, why is Trump winning?”

According to the 2015 American Values survey, the Tea Party movement has declined by nearly half over the last five years, from 11 percent in 2010 to 6 percent today.  Only 10 percent of Republicans say they’re best described by the Tea Party label.

Why would that be, since it was the Tea Party that gave control of the House to the Republicans in 2010?  A few years later, the Tea Party followed up with the Senate. Republicans also gained control of more governorships and state legislatures.  Yet, establishment Republicans went out of their way to ridicule and marginalize the contribution of the Tea Party.

Professor Theda Skocpol says, “Don’t get hung up on labels.  What used to be the Tea Party is now the GOP.”

When one considers that Carly, Trump and Carson control over 60 percent of the poll numbers and nearly 70 percent of all Americans distrust their government, Ms. Skocpol’s words are probably accurate.

Mr. Wilkinson also makes the point, “The campaign to take back America went bust in 2012 when to the Tea Party’s shock and dismay, America refused to go along.  The incomprehensible president remained, incomprehensibly, in the White House.”  Actually, the movement never declined.  The Obama administration used the IRS against its opponents, lied about Libya and ISIS and 3 million Republican voters stayed home rather than vote for the Republican establishment. Americans of both parties are on the verge of winning in 2016, not just the Democrat or Republican establishments, which have become institutionalized in politics.

Most Americans are totally frustrated by the way Washington works.  Proposals that should advance don’t because they may be vetoed.  So when nothing advances, it gives the Trump campaign more admirers.

In Mr. Kevin Carey’s article, the title is “Lend with a smile, collect with a fist.”

The story is about Liz Kelley, a teacher, who has accumulated over $410,000 in student debt.

Ms. Kelley who is nearly 50, is one of the 43.3 million Americans with student debt totaling $ 1.6 trillion.  Reports show that 779,000 people owe more than $150,000 and 346,000 owe over $200,000.

Liz Kelley graduated in 1994 with an English degree, which “then and now, the job market was not clamoring for.”

Kelley tried law school, but gave up after being hospitalized.  She and her husband lost their home during the recession and were later divorced.  More than half what she owes the government is interest at a rate of 8.5 percent.

The federal government has driven private lenders from the market.  They allow colleges and universities to charge high tuition for degrees that are practically worthless.  No consideration is given to the amount one can borrow and how the loan will be repaid.

As Mr. Carey notes, the Federal Student Loan Program does not run as normal programs do.  “Those ads that run on bus stop signs and on late night television – No cash?  No credit?  No Problem! – are essentially the Department of Education’s official policy on student loans.”

Congress needs to bring private sector back to the lending program.  Colleges should charge what the degree is worth.  The tuition for black studies should be far less than a 3-hour engineering class.  Lastly, since the schools benefit from student loans they should have to reserve for the loans made and bear part of all defaults.

Americans deserve better than politics as usual for their lives and seem poised in 2016 to take back theirs.