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Reader Commentary: Students have rough road ahead

By Andy Schmookler

A question for the voters of the 6th District: Does a guy who kicks people when they're down represent your values?

Take U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte's vote to double the interest rate on student loans.

The plight of students in America is of crisis proportions. They're being squeezed from all sides.

  • College tuition rates have increased 500 percent over the past generation. In just the past four years, the cost of tuition at our Virginia public colleges and universities has increased by more than a third.
  • While these costs have been skyrocketing, federal aid to college students has decreased. Meanwhile, state and local spending per college student, adjusted for inflation, reached a 25-year low this year.
  • No wonder the burden of student debt has made today's young adults the most indebted generation in history. No wonder student debt in America is now, for the first time, greater than credit card debt and other consumer debt.
  • When students emerge into today's job market, their prospects of finding work - to earn the money to pay off those huge debts -- are worse than that of any generation of Americans since the Great Depression. The unemployment rate of ages 18 to 29 is 50 percent larger than the rate for the labor force as a whole.

All of these changes have hit our youth through no fault of their own. Our economy, our government and our universities have dealt them a bad hand.

Isn't that the kind of situation - like when people are hit by an earthquake or a tornado - in which we Americans come through for one another?

Not Goodlatte. He was one of only two Virginia congressmen who voted to double the interest rate that these struggling young people must pay on their student loans. (Imagine your congressman voting to double the interest rate on your home loan.)

If Goodlatte had his way, millions of our youth, who already have the deck stacked against them, would be forced to cough up an average of $1,000 more each year, even while they are struggling to make ends meet.

Does Goodlatte want to persuade our youngsters to stay away from college? That's what's already happening, and the less affordable college gets, the fewer of our youth will be able to make the most of their God-given abilities.

Here's where Goodlatte's unkind and shortsighted policies hurt not only these young people, but our country as well.

College isn't for everybody. But if the American economy is going to remain vibrant in the 21st century, and if the American middle class is going to thrive, our nation needs an educated workforce. Policies that discourage the children of all but our wealthiest families from fulfilling their potential are recipes for national decline.

American workers now have to compete with billions of workers in Third World countries with a fraction of our standard of living. Is this the time to refuse to invest in our most precious resource -- our children?

Apparently, Goodlatte thinks so.

And Goodlatte's stinginess toward our youth has nothing to do with fiscal responsibility. While he's afflicting the afflicted, Goodlatte has shown himself quite willing to increase the comforts of the most comfortable. At a time when the fortunes of young families have sunk to a level not seen since 1959, and when the very wealthiest Americans have tripled their share of the national wealth and are now paying taxes at the lowest rates in 80 years, Goodlatte has voted twice for a budget that would lower their taxes still further. So Goodlatte's war on college students isn't about balancing budgets. It's about taking from average Americans to give to those who already have the most.

If these reverse Robin Hood policies represent your values, then Goodlatte is your man.

But if that's not your idea of America, then you'll be better represented by someone else. Someone like me.

Andy Schmookler is the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District.


Goodlatte has overstayed his welcome. It's about time someone is finally challenging this man: he is so typical of all that's wrong with our country today. Self-absorbed politicians who have no concern beyond getting re-elected.

Goodlatte is ALWAYS for more military spending and he always votes for a raise. I really haven't noticed any votes on behalf of the people he is suppose to represent.

If things don't change SOON, this country is going to collapse from within and I think terrorist are the least of our worries. With people like this representing us - who needs enemies?

VOTE for Andy Schmookler in November. Give him a chance to be our voice in Congress.

Student loan debt will continue to rise as long as colleges remain capable of charging astronomically high tuition for ever decreasing quality. Kicking the can down the road with low interest rates is no solution. Colleges will continue to raise their rates each year so long as low interests rates temporarily shield students from the reality of the debt they are compounding. Only when academia is forced to embrace economy and thrift, as all other sectors must, will real change occur. And this will never happen as long as the government regulates college interest rate schedules and related tools of collegiate financial manipulation. The only thing Mr. Schmookler's letter accomplished was reinforce my support of Goodlatte.

Hey there doctor Pander,

Well, well, well...... I wonder if the good "doctor" graduated in the top half or bottom half of his mail-ordered correspondence course class? Curriculum vitae, please.


No medical or state license to practice required. Hang a shingle, dispense advice, and rake in the cash.

There is no help quite like free self-help, (something for nothing?) especially self-diagnosis of mental illness (nothing from something?).

Panders obfuscation is spoken like a true bible-thumping evangelical fundamentalist intent on curing homosexuals with mere words or telling stories of Jesus giving rides to children on the backs of dinosaurs.

Insurance won't pay for the doctor's counseling? Don't have insurance? No problem. Maybe "patients" could get their church to pay the friendly doctor as he suggests on his website? Did I just say "doctor"?

Goodlatte loves you, I'm sure.

As for me, I prefer to have my doctor interpret chicken entrails to guide the cure of my mental illnesses. So far, so good.

Gotta go. Some men in white coats are knocking at the front door.


Talk about "upside down" thinking, Mr. Pandel! Students should not have their college loan interest rates lowered so "---it does not shield students from the reality of the debt they are compounding"? Why does it not surprise me that "his support for Mr. Goodlatte has been reinforced".

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