Right Angles column published in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent on May 15, 2012 http://www.postindependent.com/article/20120515/VALLEYNEWS/120519930&parentprofile=search
Spring commencement ceremonies are taking place at universities and colleges across America. Roughly two thirds of these young men and women voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 election. It’s a safe bet that percentage will drop on November 6, 2012.
The rhetoric of “hope and change” that lured youth to vote for Candidate Obama was replaced by the harsh economic realities of the Obama Presidency. Employment prospects for college graduates are dim. Many newly educated young people are deciding that elections are about the economy, not platitudes and promises.
One out of every two college graduates under the age of 25 is jobless or underemployed. That amounts to about 1.5 million people with bachelor’s degrees. Some have moved back in with their parents. Others are scraping by on low wage jobs while sending out scores of resumes to no avail. Those are real world facts. These kids are cynical about the President’s claims that the economy is improving.
Federal Labor Bureau statistics indicate the U.S. economy added 115,000 jobs in April, supposedly bringing the nationwide unemployment rate down from 8.2 to 8.1 percent. Since about 12.5 million people of working age are unemployed, most college graduate can spot the fuzzy math.
The media largely fails to report that unemployment is really down because 342,000 workers dropped out of the pool of those actively searching for work last month. According to the federal government, less people “searching” for work means lower unemployment.
Throughout the United States, worker participation has dropped to 63.6 percent. That’s the lowest number since 1981 and a big red flag. Typically in an improving economy, more people enter the labor market as business and industry expand and hire. In fact, this usually results in higher unemployment for some time because the pool of available workers initially grows as people jump back into the job search.
Doctored unemployment numbers won’t convince jobless American youths to cast their vote for the President. Mr. Obama needs the youth vote. That’s why the White House now hopes college graduates with little or no income will be swayed by promises to reduce their expenditures. So the President is delivering campus speeches, declaring he’s fighting Republican efforts to double student loan interest rates on July 1st this year. More election year propaganda.
Truth is, President Obama is just pushing for a 1-year delay on a provision of Democrat sponsored legislation. When Democrats had huge majorities in both houses of Congress in 2007, they passed a bill to temporarily cut student loan interest rates in half with American taxpayers picking up the tab on the discount. Conveniently, the interest rate was scheduled to revert back to 6.8 percent in this election year of 2012.
Republicans are now in the unenviable position of scrambling to find a financial vehicle to keep the interest rate at 3.4 percent. Democrats are demanding a tax hike to offset the lower interest rate. That means Republicans objecting to tax increases can be accused of favoring higher interest rates for college students.
Thus with soaring youth unemployment, President Obama has suddenly cast himself as the champion of student borrowers. The saddest part is that as a Senator, Barack Obama never voted for cutting the student loan interest rate in the first place. He was too busy campaigning for the Democrat Presidential Primary. Apparently, he figured the youth vote was in the bag back then.
American youths face a dour financial future. Politicians have saddled them with a national debt approaching $16 trillion. Economic growth is a woeful 2.2 percent, which is synonymous with no job creation. Business is frozen by the prospect of higher taxes and the crippling costs of nationalized healthcare. Young people are paying into insolvent entitlement programs that will provide no benefits to them. Perhaps worst of all, the cost of education has become inversely proportional to its value.
It’s difficult to imagine why anyone under the age of 25 would vote to give Barack Obama a second term. The President says his 2012 re-election campaign is still about “hope and change”. Good luck finding buyers for that product. Newly educated voters have seen plenty of change in the last 3 1/2 years. Their hope has all but disappeared as a result.