|00:00:00||IS OVER THE PAST FEW MONTHS, OUR OFFICE HAS RECEIVED COMMUNICATIONS FROM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY, FOLKS TALKING ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF THE STAFFORD PROGRAM IN TERMS OF REALLY TRANSFORMING THEIR LIVES.|
|00:00:13||I'LL BE AT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE MEETINGS, ROTARY CLUB MEETINGS, I'LL HAVE PEOPLE NOT ON MY SIDE OF THE AISLE POLITICALLY BUT COMING UP TO ME AND SAYING, THIS IS SOMETHING THE CONGRESS THESE PAY ATTENTION TO AND HAS TO PROTECT THAT LOWER RATE.|
|00:00:26||THANK GOD THIS PERSON HAS THE STAFFORD LOAN PROGRAM AVAILABLE TO HIM, JUST LIKE YOU DID AND TO SEE THAT RATE GO UP TO 6.|
|00:00:33||8% AT A TIME WHEN OUR ECONOMY, TREASURY BONDS ARE BEING SOLD AT 2% YIELD, YOU CAN GET A 30-YEAR FIXED MORTGAGE FOR UNDER 4% RIGHT NOW, MUCH LOWER.|
|00:00:45||WHEN YOU TELL PEOPLE THAT THIS RATE IS GOING TO DOUBLE TO 6.|
|00:00:49||8% FOR THIS ONE SEGMENT OF THE POPULATION, YOUNG AMERICANS WHO REALLY ARE DOING IT FOR THE PURPOSE OF IMPROVING THEIR OWN SITUATION, IT'S GREETED BY ABSOLUTE, UTTER DISBELIEF, AND AT A TIME WHEN, AS YOU POINT OUT, DEBT LEVELS, I'VE GOT A CHART HERE FROM THE FEDERAL RESERVE WHICH SHOWS WHERE WE'RE HEADED RIGHT NOW IN THIS COUNTRY.|
|00:01:09||WE HAVE GOT TO, NUMBER ONE, NOT MAKE THE CONDITION WORSE BY INCREASING THE INTEREST RATE, AND AGAIN, WE'VE RUN THE NUMBERS OVER A FIVE-YEAR PERIOD OF TIME, SOMEBODY WHO HAS A STAFFORD LOAN PORTFOLIO, LOOKING AT AN ADDITIONAL $5,000 IN INTEREST PAYMENTS, $12,000 OVER A 10-YEAR PERIOD, NORMAL FOR PEOPLE PAYING BACK STUDENT LOANS.|
|00:01:33||WE ARE COMPOUNDING THE LINES THAT THEY PUT UP TO WARN US, WE'RE CREATING CRUSHING DEBT.|
|00:01:43||"THE WALL STREET JOURNAL" STORY ABOUT A YOUNG COUPLE WITH STUDENT LOAN DEBTS WHO BASICALLY WERE PUTTING OFF STARTING A FAMILY AND BUYING A HOUSE BECAUSE OF THE DEBT LEVELS THAT THEY WERE BASICALLY JUST WORKING TO PAY FOR EVERY MONTH IN TERMS OF THEIR BURDENS.|
|00:02:00||AND WE NEED TO BE FRANKLY, A, DEALING WITH THE ISSUE OF THE RATE INCREASE IN THE NEXT 67 DAYS, BUT SECONDLY WE NEED TO HAVE A MUCH BIGGER NATIONAL CONVERSATION TO TALK ABOUT MEASURES LIKE YOUR BILL TO CREATE, AGAIN, A SYSTEM THAT REWARDS PEOPLE WHO ARE CURRENT WITH THEIR PAYMENTS, WHO ARE MAKING PROGRESS IN THEIR LIVE BUS THAT ARE NOT GOING TO HAVE A BALL AND CHAIN AROUND THEIR NECK IN TERMS OF DEBT LEVELS THAT, AGAIN, AS YOU POINT OUT, AT THE END OF THE DAY, REALLY INHIBITS CREATIVITY AND INVESTMENT AND INNOVATION, YOU KNOW, FOR PEOPLE AT A TIME IN LIFE WHEN THEY SHOULD BE SPREADING THEIR WINGS, NOT DRAGGING THESE HUGE BURDENS OF DEBT THAT REALLY HOLD THEM BACK AND HOLE OUR COUNTRY BACK.|
|00:02:41||AGAIN, I APPRECIATE YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS HERE THIS EVENING AND AGAIN, THE CLOCK IS TICKING.|
|00:02:47||67 DAYS AND COUNTING, YOU KNOW, MR.|
|00:02:51||ROMNEY, YESTERDAY, BASICALLY PUT UP, YOU KNOW A STRONG SIGNAL TO THE CONGRESSIONAL MAJORITY IN THE HOUSE HERE, THE REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL MAJORITY THAT THIS IS SOMETHING WE MUST DO AND WE'RE STILL WAITING.|
|00:03:04||146 CO-SPONSORS ON H.|
|00:03:06||R. 3826, AGAIN, I'M NOT SOMEBODY WHO HAS A BIG EGO, IF SOMEBODY HAS A COUNTERPROPOSAL TO COME UP WITH A DIFFERENT WAY TO TO DO THIS, WE'RE ALL EARS.|
|00:03:15||WHAT WE DON'T NEED IS THE COMMENTS OF THE CHAIRWOMAN OF THE HIGHER EDUCATION SUBCOMMITTEE BASICALLY SAYING HE HAS -- SHE HAS NO TOLERANCE FOR STUDENTS WITH $80,000 IN STUDENT LOAN DEBT THAT IS A CONGRESS WHICH IS OUT OF TOUCH WITH THE REALITY THAT YOUNG PEOPLE ARE CONFRONTING THESE DAYS WHO, AGAIN, ARE REALLY TRYING TO IMPROVE THEMSELVES AND FILL THE WORK FORCE NEEDS OF THIS COUNTRY.|
|00:03:36||WE CANNOT AFFORD THAT TYPE OF LEADERSHIP HERE IN THIS CONGRESS.|
|00:03:40||WE NEED TO HAVE PEOPLE FOCUSED ON THE REAL CONDITION OF THE MIDDLE CLASS IN THIS COUNTRY BUT ALSO REALLY FOCUSED, LIKE ABRAHAM LINCOLN WAS NEW YORK 1862, ABOUT WHAT'S IMPORTANT IN TERMS OF THE FUTURE OF THIS COUNTRY.|
|00:03:52||AGAIN, IF YOU HAVE OTHER COMMENTS YOU WANT TO SHARE, AGAIN, I'D BE HAPPY TO YIELD BACK TO YOU.|
|00:04:00||MR. CLARKE:, I WOULD LIKE TO RESPOND TO YOUR COMMENTS.|
|00:04:02||THANK YOU, REPRESENTATIVE.|
|00:04:04||YOUR REQUEST FOR US TO KEEP INTEREST RATES AT 3.|
|00:04:08||4% IS SO REASONABLE.|
|00:04:09||THAT WE NEED TO ACT ON THAT RIGHT NOW.|
|00:04:13||AND THE POINT THAT YOU MENTIONED THAT WE NEED TO HAVE THESE LOANS AVAILABLE FOR OUR STUDENTS SO THEY CAN GET THE TRAINING THEY NEED TO BE HIRED INTO JOBS THAT ARE GOING UNFILLED RIGHT NOW.|
|00:04:25||IN METROPOLITAN DETROIT, KNOWN FOR HAVING A HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT RATE, WHERE PEOPLE REALLY WANT TO GO TO WORK, THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF JOBS AVAILABLE IN METRO DETROIT THAT ARE NOT BEING FILLED BECAUSE EMPLOYERS CAN'T FIND THE FOLKS THAT HAVE THE TRAINING AND THE INFORMATION -- IN THE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AREA FOR SOFTWARE ENGINEERING.|
|00:04:46||WE WANT TONE COURAGE PEOPLE TO GO TO SCHOOL, EVEN IF THEY DON'T HAVE THE MONEY.|
|00:04:51||WE WANT THEM TO BE ABLE TO BORROW LOANS WITHOUT HAVING TO GO INTO THIS TYPE OF DEBT.|
|00:04:56||AND MY FINAL POINT IS THIS, TOO, IS THAT IF WE ALLOW BORROWERS TO BE BURDENED BY STUDENT LOAN DEBT TO SUCH A DEGREE THEY CAN'T PAY OFF THEIR DEBT, WE HAVE WE AS TAXPAYERS ARE ON THE HOOK FOR THIS DEBT.|
|00:05:19||PROBABLY HALF A TRILLION DOLLARS OF IT.|
|00:05:24||THAT'S TAXPAYER BACKED.|
|00:05:25||WE'RE ON THE HOOK FOR THIS ONE WAY OR THE OTHER.|
|00:05:27||WE SHOULD GIVE OUR BORROWERS A HELPING HAND SO THEY CAN MANAGE THEIR STUDENT LOANRY PAYMENTS, PAY THIS DEBT DOWN, AND THEN GET ON WITH THEIR LIVES AND HELP US CREATE JOBS THROUGHOUT THIS COUNTRY, THROUGHOUT THIS WORLD BY SELLING THE BEST PRODUCTS THAT METRO DETROIT KNOWS HOW TO DO.|
|00:05:44||THANK YOU SO MUCH.|
|00:05:46||MR. COURTNEY: THANK YOU, MR.|
|00:05:48||CLARKE. IN CLOSING, I WANT TO END WHERE WE DEPAN, 67 DAYS AND COUNTING.|
Mr. COURTNEY. Thank you, Congressman Clarke, and thank you for sharing your personal story.
What has been sort of extraordinary to me is that over the last few months, as we've been working on H.R. 3826, our office has received communications from all over the country from folks talking about the importance of the Stafford program in terms of really transforming their lives. I'll be at Chamber of Commerce meetings; I'll be at Rotary Club meetings; I will have people who are not on my side of the aisle politically but coming up to me afterwards and saying this is something that the Congress absolutely has to pay attention to, that it has to protect that lower rate, and thank God this person had the Stafford loan program available to him just like you did. [Page: H2056] To see that rate go up to 6.8 percent at a time when our economy--Treasury bonds are being sold at a 2 percent yield. You can get a 30-year fixed mortgage for, really, under 4 percent right now, variabilities at much lower. When you tell people that this rate is going to double to 6.8 percent for this one segment of the population, young Americans who really are doing it for the purpose of improving their own situations, it's greeted by just absolute utter disbelief.
At a time when, as you point out, debt levels--and I've got a little chart here from the Federal Reserve which shows where we're headed right now in this country. We have got to, number one, not make the condition worse by increasing the interest rate--and again, we've run the numbers.
Over a 5-year period of time, somebody who has got a Stafford loan portfolio is looking at an additional $5,000 in interest payments. It's $11,000 for over a 10-year period, which is quite normal, as you said, for people paying back their student loans. We are compounding the trend lines for which the Federal Reserve Bank has, again, put up the warning flags to tell us that we're just creating crushing debt.
The Wall Street Journal had a story, which I was thinking of it as you were speaking earlier, about a young couple with student loan debts who basically were putting off starting a family and buying a house because of the debt levels, that they were basically just working to pay for every month in terms of their burdens there.
We need to be, frankly, A, dealing with the issue of the rate increase obviously in the next 67 days; but, secondly, we need to have a much bigger national conversation to talk about measures like your bill to create, again, a system that rewards people who are current with their payments, who are making progress in their lives but that are not going to have a ball and chain around their necks in terms of debt levels that, again, as you point out, at the end of the day really inhibit creativity and investment and innovation for people at a time in life when they really should be just spreading their wings, not dragging these huge burdens of debt that really hold them back and hold our country back.
So, again, I really appreciate your contributions here this evening. The clock is ticking, 67 days and counting.
Mr. Romney yesterday basically put up a strong signal to the congressional majority in the House here, the Republican congressional majority, that this is something that we must do. And we're still waiting. 146 cosponsors on H.R. 3826.
I'm not somebody who has a big ego. If somebody has a counterproposal to come up with a different way to do this, we're all ears. But what we don't need are the comments of the chairwoman of the Higher Education Subcommittee basically saying she has no tolerance for students with $80,000 in student loan debt. That is a Congress which is out of touch with the reality that young people are confronting these days, who are really trying to improve themselves and fill the workforce needs of this country.
We cannot afford that type of leadership here in this Congress. We need to have people who are focused on the real condition of the middle class in this country, but also really focused, like Abraham Lincoln was back in 1862, about what's important in terms of the future of this country.