Sunday, January 14, 2007

Politics First, Policy...Later

One of the key items on the Democrats “First 100 Hours” agenda is lowering interest rates on subsidized federal student loans.

Specifically, they are proposing to halve interest rates from 6.8% to 3.4% over the next five years. I can’t help but be a fan of this proposal since it would save me several thousand, perhaps tens of thousands, of dollars over the next 10 or 15 years.

But the last three paragraphs of this article troubled me.

Apparently, the financial implications of this measure have not been seriously reviewed by the House Committee responsible for the bill (Education and Labor). Nevertheless, the Democrats are trying to push it through – it is after all, a popular political move (there are a lot of students like me – many of which have voting parents that also benefit from this measure).

It may very well turn out that this measure is also good policy – i.e. that the financial costs are totally justifiable. If there is any area in which government should be liberal in its use of resources, it is education – particularly in its financial aspects such as loans (whereas I think other areas of education need fundamental reform before committing more dollars).

Still, there is no reason that this policy should not have already been vetted. This is one of the Democrats top five priorities in this legislative session – surely they have done their homework to make sure that their top political priorities are also decent policy….right?

To not do so would be to put politics above policy – right out of the gate, no less. Isn’t that one of the main reasons the American people basically fired the Republicans in November? It is certainly the core reason that this country has record structural budget deficits and a crushing national debt.

Yes, of course I know that this kind of thing happens all the time in Washington. But if we continue to silently accept it, how can we ever expect anything different?

At least it makes me feel a little better to publicly complain about it.


Unknown said...

As a Democrat, I could equally well say that the last three paragraphs of the article merely represent Republican sour grapes, especially now that what went around is finally coming around. (Also, the link is broken; it has an extra period at the end.)

As a Democrat, I could also say that because, as you say, "the American people basically fired the Republicans in November," the Democrats get a shot at some non-bipartisan politics for a while. The old (and thoroughly non-bipartisan) way was crap--the voters have said so--so you lose your say for a bit while we try and fix things up our way (since you broke them). If we blow our chance or abuse our mandate, then fine, we're stupid jerks, but for now, bend over and take it.

Jared said...

I fixed the link.

I'm not harping on the Democrats being non-bipartisan.

I am bothered by the appearance that they are in such a hurry to gain popularity that they are not properly evaluating the merits of the policies they are pushing to get it.

The fact that the Republicans have done so in the past is irrelevant to the question that asks whether or not it is right or wrong. In my opinion. ;)

Unknown said...

I agree that giving the GOP a taste of its own medicine should not be a goal unto itself. It should merely be one of the perks. :)

But I don't think that the objective is to gain popularity. They have the popularity; that's what the election was about. I think it's a legitimate effort to get some stuff done. I could be wrong, and the motives could be ulterior, but at this time, I just don't think they are...and I suppose only time will tell!

Bryan said...

I agree with you Jared. I think this legislation is an easy offering to their base. I am not opposed to helping students pay for their education. The difficult issues have to do with energy policy, environmental policy, health care, social security, Mid-East peace, etc. I say get the feel good, constituent pleasing measures out of the way so we can move on to the real issues facing our country.

Great blog Jared!