EDITORIAL: Rubio and Clinton offer strong education policies
Super Tuesday, the day when the single most votes and delegates are on the line for presidential primary candidates, has arrived. Included within it is the Massachusetts primary, where students, faculty, staff and administrators are expected to vote in high numbers in the 2016 presidential race.
As a college newspaper that covers issues within and related to University life, this board has based its analysis of the primary candidates on their proposals related to college issues. These issues primarily revolve around making higher education more affordable and accessible to as many people as possible. Importantly, the following recommendations are not full endorsements — many members of this board have reservations about other proposals and qualities of the selected candidates, and responsible voters should consider all aspects of those running before making a decision.
But on the issue most directly related to the readers of this newspaper, this board applauds the proposals of Republcian Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) and Democratic candidate Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D).
For an endorsement of a Republican presidential candidate, this board initially considered Rubio as well as Ohio Governor John Kasich because out of all Republican candidates, Rubio and Kasich have the most definitive plans for higher education.
In addition to his stated desire to change the accreditation system of college acceptance, Rubio’s platform calls to “establish income-based repayment as the universal repayment method for federal student loans,” according to his website.
This Board prefers this plan to other Republican candidates’ proposals because an income-based repayment system lowers the annual average cost needed to repay student loans in exchange for a longer term, according to the Federal Student Aid website.
Rubio’s plan would make student-loan repayment proportional to the earnings of college graduates and “give graduates the option of consolidating existing loans into the new, simplified IBR system.” This plan is best suited for students already in college who are focused on repaying college debt after graduation.
Conversely, Kasich has a plan to keep college affordable by allowing high-school students to take college classes in high school, according to his website. Rubio’s plan has more practical applications for students already in college, and this board endorses him as a result.
However, we have reservations with Rubio’s “Student Investment Plans,” which allow students to borrow money from “approved investors to help Americans finance postsecondary education without taking on the burden of student loans.” This plan takes the broken student-loan system and transfers it to the private sector without addressing the fundamental flaws inherent to the system and the issues that make student loans necessary.
Both candidates in the tight Democratic primary race have proposed thorough higher education reform that would allow any admitted student to afford a public university.
Senator Bernie Sanders promises to abolish tuition costs for public universities entirely, instead funding college through a tax on Wall Street speculation and asking states to greatly increase their contributions to their schools.
Clinton, on the other hand, aims to keep students from needing to borrow money for school.
Her campaign calculations assume students work approximately 10 hours at a part-time job through college and that their parents have saved up a college fund, but she plans to supplement state spending with federal grants, cut interest rates on loans, simplify refinancing and offer debt relief to an estimated 25 million borrowers.
Our choice of Clinton is not based on which candidate offers the ideal plan — obviously, attending college for free is better than paying — but rather on which offers the more feasible one. Almost no prominent economists have endorsed the Sanders ‘ education plan as being economically viable, due to potentially overestimating the returns on his Wall Street tax and inevitably fierce protestations from states who are asked to massively reallocate toward education when they already can barely make ends meet.
While it’s unlikely that either proposal in its current form will end up being passed, when faced with the single least productive and most partisan Congresses in history, Clinton’s proven political record and more moderate starting point make her more likely to succeed in passing some sort of reform, and in the end, this board holds that even gradual progress under a Clinton administration is better than no potential progress under a Sanders administration.
Undoubtedly, Sanders’ self-described democratic socialism would turn into an attack line for the next four years of GOP activism, and hard-line Republican congressmen would fiercely block almost any of Sanders’ costly proposals, regardless of their quality. While the ideals of Sanders’ college platform are deeply appealing, Clinton’s plan — essentially a continuation of the Obama platform — offers the best chance at actually seeing enaction.
The Clinton campaign must note going forward that many college students may not have the time to work — even at a part-time job — while excelling in school, that the earnings from such part-time work rarely make a dent in college expenses and that low-income families can rarely afford to save a college fund large enough to impact costs. If elected, Clinton would need to consider these concerns.
Regardless of which primary candidates voters select and on what issues they base their decision, this board urges all American citizens to get out and vote — if not in the primary, then certainly in the general election. More so than most, this may become a crucial election for the character and future of the United States, and all Americans have both a duty and an honor to influence what that future will be.
—Editor’s Note: Catherine Rosch, an associate editor of the Justice, is an active campaigner for the Sanders’ administration. Rosch recused herself from conversations and writing for the Democrat segment of this editorial.