October 27: News Roundup

A growing number of Republicans are cautioning that extreme statements by the 2012 presidential candidates will hurt the party’s chances of winning in 2012. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has joined a group of Republicans who think that the candidates’ reliance on personal attacks will damage the party’s image. Even one of the candidates, Newt Gingrich, has spoken out against such pettiness, comparing some of the debate bickering to “some cafeteria in the seventh grade” the Atlantic reports.

When you put President Obama’s jobs plan up against the GOP proposal, there is not even a competition, reports the Los Angeles Times: “Obama’s American Jobs Act would raise economic demand and boost employment, while Republicans’ Jobs Through Growth Act would do little except protect corporate profits.” The Obama program, which is comprised of infrastructure spending, temporary payroll tax cuts, and extended unemployment coverage, would create 1.3 million jobs in the first year and raise GDP growth by 1.25 percentage points. By contrast, the GOP plan protects corporate profits by cutting the corporate tax rate, attacks unions, and repeals important financial regulations.

Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and Mitt Romney have all advocated for a regressive “flat tax” scheme that would tax everyone under the same rate. A simple flat tax might sound good on its face, but the details of such plans uncover a bad tax plan that hurts the middle class. I<any will see their net tax rates rise under the Republican plans. Both Cain and Perry’s plans also pose the potential problem of a shortfall in tax revenue. Even with their tax increase on the middle class, their flat taxes would bring in less revenue the Las Vegas Sun reports.

A Washington Post editorial calls GOP Presidential hopeful Rick Perry’s “flat tax” scheme, “less simple or fair” while leading to greater deficits. Read more about it in today’s Washington Post.

Hitting rock bottom: Alabama is also now requiring “proof of U.S. citizenship” before issuing library cards, ThinkProgress reports. Alabama’s new draconian anti-immigrant law also makes it a crime for undocumented immigrants to have water in their homes, ThinkProgress reports.

Bad news for “nativists” and know-nothings: A New York Times editorial points out the obvious, that the U.S. economy can’t work without immigrants. Read more at the New York Times.

Chart of the Day: As he so often is when it comes to budgets and basic economics, Republican darling Congressman Paul Ryan is wrong about Americans being upwardly mobile, TPM reports.

President Obama: “We Can’t Wait”

President Barack Obama has launched a national effort to urge Congress to pass the American Jobs Act, piece by piece, to put folks back to work and strengthen the economy.  Using the mantra “we can’t wait,” the President will highlight executive actions that his Administration will take.  He’ll continue to pressure Congressional Republicans to put country before party and pass the American Jobs Act, but he believes we cannot wait, so he will act where they won’t.

While in Las Vegas, Nevada the last week of October, the President highlighted a set of steps announced by the FHFA to make it easier for some homeowners to refinance their mortgages.  This will help responsible borrowers with little or no equity in their homes take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates.

The Administration also announced measures to help students better manage their student loan debt when they graduate.

These announcements will build on our ongoing effort to take action and help middle class families. For example, we decided to stop waiting for Congress to fix No Child Left Behind, and decided to give states the flexibility they need to help our children meet higher standards.  And the President acted to dramatically reduce the time it takes for small businesses to get paid when they have a contract with the federal government, and eliminated regulations that will save hospitals and patients billions of dollars.

These steps aren’t a substitute for the bold action we need to create jobs and grow the economy, but they’ll make a difference.  The fact is, our problems are too serious to simply do nothing.  The stakes are too high.  The issues facing Americans require serious bipartisan solutions, yet the Republicans in Congress have decided to put party before country and block legislation that would create jobs and grow the economy.  They blocked the Americans Jobs Act, a bill that independent experts said could create up to 2 million jobs.  And again, just last week, Senate Republicans obstructed a piece of the American Jobs Act that would keep hundreds of thousands of firefighters on the job, police officers on the streets, and teachers in the classroom when our kids need them most.

While President Obama continues to take executive actions, Republicans in Congress will have the opportunity to do what’s right for the country.  They’ll have a chance to vote on another piece of the Americans Jobs Act.  It’s a bill that will make an immediate investment of $50 billion in our nation’s surface transportation infrastructure and a $10 billion investment to create a bipartisan National Infrastructure bank.  Together, these initiatives will put hundreds of thousands of construction workers back on the job rebuilding our roads, rails, and runways.

We’ll continue to do our job.  Over the weeks and months ahead, we’ll continue to take actions that will improve the economy and help middle class families.  Now, it’s time for Republicans in Congress to do theirs. It’s time to put country before party and do what’s right for the American people.

We Can’t Wait: Student Loan Reform

President Obama just took two serious steps to make life a lot easier for folks with student loans—and there’s a good chance you or someone you know will benefit from these changes very soon.

Here’s how:

—Effective this January, if you’re someone who has different kinds of loans—guaranteed and direct—you’ll be able to roll them both into one direct loan and bring down your interest rate. You’ll only have to write one check a month—and you’ll see a discount. This switch saves money for taxpayers across the board, and it helps pay for the second step the President announced today.

—You might remember that, as part of last year’s student loan reform, borrowers’ loan payments could be no higher than 10 percent of their disposable income. This is a big deal—but it wasn’t going to go into effect until 2014. Today, the President announced that he’s speeding up this program so it will affect students next year—two years early. This will have huge consequences for people struggling to make their student loan payments.

Sometimes, it can be hard to see how these policy changes will actually affect your day-to-day life. Not the case with this one. Whether you’re a student, a mom or dad, one of these almost certainly helps you.

President Obama isn’t waiting on Congress to take action. He’s doing everything in his power, right now, to help bolster our economy and get folks back on their feet.

On Monday, he laid out new rules on federal mortgages to help make sure more families don’t lose their homes to foreclosure. On Tuesday, he issued two executive orders to help veterans find work. Today, it means making changes that make student loans a lot easier to manage.

These are actions that can’t wait on the next vote or the next election. So long as people are struggling, this President and this administration will do everything in their power to help them when and where they can. It’s just that simple. Now, let’s make sure that the millions of people who stand to benefit from today’s steps know about it.

Watch the video to learn more about today’s student loan changes—and then help get the word out.

Making College More Affordable

From investing in Pell Grants to supporting the American Opportunity Tax Credit, President Obama and his administration have worked to make college more affordable for more students and their families. Now, the President is taking the next step by making it easier for students to repay federal student loans. Here are just a few of the ways the President’s executive order today will help millions of current and future students:

  • In 2010, President Obama proposed an income-based repayment plan will allow those with student loans to cap their monthly payments at 15% of their income. Starting July 1, 2014, that limit will be reduced to 10% of discretionary income.
  • The President recently announced a new “Pay as You Earn” proposal that will make these benefits available to some borrowers as early as 2012—reducing monthly payments for more than 1.6 million students.
  • Beginning in January 2012, the Department of Education will reach out to borrowers with both guaranteed and direct loans to allow those borrowers to consolidate their loans into one monthly payment—resulting in a discount and reducing their risk of default.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Education are working together to launch a new “Know Before You Owe” project to help students better understand and compare financial aid packages from different colleges and universities. This initiative will help make sure students and their families have all the resources they need to make an informed financial decision before choosing a college.

For more information on these programs, visit the White House blog.