“Today will go down in history as the day when the federal government chose to invest in college students over bank profits,” said United States Student Association (USSA) President Gregory Cendana. “By ending wasteful subsidies to private lenders and directing over sixty billion dollars of savings into financial aid programs, this legislation will ensure that millions of low-income and traditionally underrepresented students have access to higher education.”

Education is a Right, “Victory for Students as Historic Student Aid Reform Passes in Congress

After the passage of the health reform bill, which included sweeping changes to the financing of higher education, I think it’s legitimate to ask, “How clever is the Obama administration?” If we went back in time to the FDR administration, we’d see similar sorts of political posturing. On the right, the world seemed to be ending as a Democratic administration gave in to Communist influence. FDR, like Obama, faced a hostile supreme court, war, and an opposition that seemed to have lost touch with reality.

On the left, the administartion seemed to be co-oping and watering down social democratic ideas. When the dust cleared– say, two decades or so later, after a horrific world war, we had some good (if limited) programs, like social security. A few decades later, and the Civil Rights Act and Medicare and Medicaid followed the same pattern. On the right, it was the end of the world, and on the left, the ideas were watered down and hardly recognizable. I think history has proven the left criticism correct, by and large.

If we had a national pension plan and a single payer health care system, we would all be better off socially and economically. I am not sure that we will ever get past our American propensity for frontier violence, but we might have a more just society. The contemporary right, though, seems wholly unaware that they are replaying their historical role as ugly and self destructive Americans. I honestly can’t tell if the Obama administration is equally unaware or playing some other game altogether.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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