Monday, April 23, 2012

College Students Up For Grabs

Mitt Romney's announcement that he supports an extension of low student loan interest rates may be good politics: it suggests that he is open to the concerns of the young.  (And, despite the outrage on some comment threads, it's not exactly clear how this is a tremendous betrayal of conservative values.  If conservatives really are concerned about dealing with student loans in a free-market way, they have an outlet available to them: allow for student loans to be discharged in bankruptcy.  It's not clear to me at least why higher interest rates on student loans are now the sine qua non of TrueConservativism.)

The terrible job market for the young could eventually be Obama's undoing with that demographic.  Obama's approval rating has hovered in the low 50s with this group throughout much of the year (though it has ticked upwards a little bit over the past few weeks).  America's youth seem to be on the fence about the president.  Supposed coolness and reputedly "soaring" speeches don't pay the bills of America's young people.  Reagan was able to win a generation in the early 1980s with his message of economic opportunity for all in the face of Jimmy Carter's malaise.

A lot of recent Republican talking points have emphasized guaranteeing government benefits for the currently middle-aged and elderly (the Ryan budget, for example, would guarantee gold-plated Medicare to everyone over the age of 55).  Now might be a good time to pivot to the message of growth for all Americans, especially for the young.  Providing economic opportunity for the young is a means of providing for income security for older Americans.

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