Gillibrand Tackles The Student Loan Crisis

During her appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on January 15, 2019, Kristen Gillibrand announced that she had formed an exploratory committee to consider running for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Since then the junior Senator from New York has been actively sharing her political position as well as concrete plans on Twitter in an effort to gain supporters from a base that may have no idea who she is or where she came from. 

Gillibrand has been politically active since 2006 and was recognized as a centrist while in the House who became more of a liberal when she transitioned to the Senate. She was the first Senator in New York to support same-sex marriage, is a supporter of abortion rights, and criminal justice reform. This week, however, she shared her strong views on student loan debt - a topic high up on the list of political priorities for young voters. The strategy of appealing to young voters is a strong one when considering how low their turnout is in comparison to other age groups. Although voter registration has gone up with every election - with the boom of social media campaigns that provide easy access to information on how to get registered- the issue of getting them to the polls on election day has proven to be the most difficult part. 

On Monday, February 18, 2019 Gillibrand announced a preview, via Twitter, of her plan to tackle student loan debt by allowing all students to refinance their loans at 4%. This delves into the topic of education which many candidates have expressed their interest in overhauling as the years pass, recognizing how critical it is for college students and graduates alike. The junior Senator from New York connects her passion for easing student loan debt with the need to strengthen the economy stating that helping young people recover from loan debt would alleviate the pressures its downfall places on our economy as a whole. 

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In May of 2019 Gillibrand criticized the Trump administration for not taking the gargantuan issue of student loan debt, which has almost tripled since 2004, serious enough. She showed support for two bills in the Senate - The Streamlining Income-driven, Manageable Payments on Loans for Education Act  and the Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act. Both bills would help student loan borrowers by allowing them to enroll in repayment programs that could cut monthly payments and then refinance them - respectively. Her recent Twitter info-share highlights her passion for calling out the federal government and the ease with which they profit on the backs of college graduates. 

Gillibrand’s interest in fighting for student loan borrowers is nothing new. In 2013, she was one of the 18 Senators that voted against the bipartisan federal bill, which did pass, that would link interest rates on federal student loans to the financial markets. The bill proposed lower interest rates but Gillibrand’s acknowledged its downside - it would lock the interest rate to market rates which could go up quickly and cause students to have to pay back up to 10% on their loans making it impossible to afford in the long run. Gillibrand has not only been voicing her opinion on the issue but taking action on it for quite some time. The vigor with which she attacks this issue could help her win the hearts of young voters country-wide as it’s one that spread across many demographics and one it doesn’t seem she will back down from any time soon.