Now we see one of the reasons the Senate is including student loans in reconciliation — they don’t want to tax rich people (as the House does), so they’re stealing the money from community colleges.
The Senate HELP Committee is currently writing the student loan reconciliation bill that the House has to pass (the House having become completely irrelevant to the democratic process). And all of that amazing $87 billion in savings couldn’t just go to the students and schools that badly need it. They’ve accepted Kent Conrad’s dictum that the lower CBO score be used, and they’re hacking away at it:
Democrats have had to get their knives out to get the student loan measure’s costs under the $61-billion-over-10-years ceiling. Some of the casualties — like $8 billion for early childhood education, and $4 billion for school modernization — didn’t trouble college leaders a bit, as they quietly opposed using savings from the student loan programs for those non-college purposes all along.
But some of the other cuts would prove enormously painful. Foremost among them is the apparent excision of the entire American Graduation Initiative, which would pour as much as $12 billion over 10 years into grants and construction funds for community colleges. President Obama has put two-year institutions at the center of his higher education agenda, a major change from previous administrations, and the American Graduation Initiative was designed not just to provide more money to the colleges, but to link the money to a set of quality indicators aimed at increasing accountability demands on them.
With unemployment soaring, so is enrollment in community colleges. That’s where many minority students who are unable to find work wind up, in order to increase their job skills and qualify for higher paying jobs. Historically black and hispanic colleges would still get money, but that $600 million over the next two years is small change compared to the $11.3 billion for K-12 modernization, early education and community colleges now lost (per the CBO).
The House health care bill paid for health care reform by taxing the wealthy. But Larry Summers doesn’t like to tax rich people, and the White House doesn’t want to be accused of “raising taxes.” Of course, they could just make up the money by including a public plan — even a weak one would save $25 billion.
Instead, the most economically vulnerable are having their futures hacked away to pay AHIP a 20% fee for doing nothing in the health care process. And Ben Nelson hasn’t even begun shaking the bill down for Nelnet, JP Morgan and Citigroup.