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The New York Times calls for student loan reform:
College students who borrow from private lenders often assume that private and federal student loans work the same way. The two could not be more different. Federal loans, for example, have low, fixed rates and broad consumer protections that permit people who run into trouble to make lower, partial payments or to defer them altogether until they recover financially.

Private student loans from banks and other lenders typically come with variable interest rates, which means that borrowers who misunderstand the conditions of the loan can be shocked to find what they owe in the end. In addition, private loans offer limited consumer protections, leaving borrowers who get into trouble with few options other than default. This makes it difficult for them to get jobs, credit or to even rent apartments. [...]

Federal regulators clearly have a lot to do to address what amounts to a student loan crisis. (Total student indebtedness is now about $1.2 trillion.) They can begin by preventing contracts that unfairly burden borrowers in the private market who owe $150 billion. Terms should be clearly stated. Borrowers should be notified that their loans are at risk. And in no case should a borrower in good standing be shoved into default.

Robert M. Davis:
$1.1 trillion. That is now the total outstanding student loan debt in the United States. Student loan debt is the second largest type of consumer debt in the U.S.
Outstanding student loan debt accounts for roughly 6 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, outpacing credit card debt and second only to mortgage debt. [...] One of the effects of the recession is that many new graduates enter in job positions in which the wage earnings may be insufficient to pay off their debt burden and save for a house or make other purchases. Household debt as a percentage of gross domestic product has increased over the last 30 years; as debt increases, consumers have less to spend. As consumers have less to spend, there is a decrease in demand. As demand decreases, so too does supply; this drives reductions in the labor force and the income earnings that go with it.
Much more below the fold.

Kimberly Hefling at Associated Press:
Some student loan borrowers who had a parent or grandparent co-sign the note are finding that they must immediately pay the loan in full if the relative dies.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says lenders have clauses in their contract that explain this could happen, but many borrowers are not aware of them.

The agency’s ombudsman, Rohit Chopra, said complaints related to this issue are growing more common because the practice is catching so many consumers by surprise. Some borrowers who are told to pay back the loan in full have been making timely payments, Chopra said. While it’s unclear how prevalent it is, Chopra said it appears to be the practice among many private lenders of student loans.

Turning to the Affordable Health Care Act, Greg Sargent highlights one Republican walkback:
Here’s another sign that the stance on Obamacare held by many GOP Senate candidates — whether you call it “repeal,” or “repeal and replace with something-or-other to be specified later” — is becoming increasingly unsustainable and could get harder and harder to explain as these campaigns intensify.

In a weekend interview with WMUR, Scott Brown — who is running for Senate in New Hampshire — attempted to explain his stance on health care. He endorsed the general goals of protecting people with preexisting conditions and expanding coverage to those who need it. But he then denounced Obamacare as a “disaster,” citing the usual litany of Obama tyrannies and horror stories often hawked by Republicans.

So, how would Senator Scott Brown go about accomplishing the goals he says he supports? Well, he urges reform on the state level

Meanwhile, Denver Nicks digs into the latest Obamacare poll:
Support in battleground congressional districts for implementing Obamacare has increased sharply in recent months, according to the Democratic pollsters at Democracy Corps.

In December last year, amid a contentious rollout and weeks of bad news surrounding the problem-plagued website, support among likely voters in competitive congressional districts for repealing the Affordable Care Act was 45 percent, slightly behind the 49 percent support for keeping and fixing the law. As of April 2014, support for repeal is essentially unchanged at 42 percent, near the margin of error. Support for putting Obamacare into effect with some improvements is a full 10 points higher, at 52 percent.

Jay Bookman looks at Tea Party scams:
Tea Party Patriots, one of the groups cited above, has raised $7.4 million from citizens since 2013, but has spent just $184,505 on actually supporting candidates.  The group is headed by Jenny Beth Martin of Georgia. According to The Post, the salary that Martin collects and the consultant fees that she charges the group "put her on track to make more than $450,000 this year."

That's roughly 2.5 times as much as the total amount the group has spent supporting candidates since the beginning of 2013. Martin's cousin is also on the payroll as a strategic consultant. [...] And of course, it's not just the Tea Party groups. The conservative movement has evolved a whole range of professional purity police, from talk radio hosts to blogs to Fox News and even elected officials such as Sen. Ted Cruz, all of whose influence and paychecks depend on enforcing strict ideological conformity.

It's a great gig for them; for the Republican Party and the rest of the country, not so much.

Finally, a really important piece by Stacey Boyd on the importance of extracurriculars in school:
Groundbreaking work of cognitive neuroscientists reveals what we think are “extras” are central to strengthening our minds. Studying Mandarin or music as a child might do more for your adult brain and long-term economic prospects than studying biology.

Take music as an example. A study by Virginia Penhune at Concordia University shows that musical training, particularly instrumental training, produces long lasting changes in motor abilities and brain structure. The earlier a child starts instrumental training, the stronger the connection between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. These changes last into adulthood and are proven to affect the ability to listen and communicate as an adult. Nina Krauss, a cognitive neuroscientist at Northwestern University, just released a study that older adults who took music lessons at a young age can process the sounds of speech faster than those who did not, even if they haven’t picked up an instrument in 40 years.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Eugene Robinson: "The racists among us" (22+ / 0-)

    is the title of this post in which I examine an outstanding column by the Pulitzer Prize winner, and offer some additional thoughts of my own.

    I would be honored it you would take the time to read, and even more honored were you to recommend and/or comment

    "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

    by teacherken on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 04:52:29 AM PDT

  •  Blogathon on divestment is tomorrow. Pls support. (19+ / 0-)

    Harvard Fossil Fuel Divestment Blogathon – Please Sign the Petition to Show Your Support

    On April 30, Harvard students will form a blockade outside the President Faust's office in support of divestment from fossil fuel. A coalition of NGOs support the blockade and ask for your support.  We've been asked to hold a blogathon here the same day to help spread the word and obtain more signatures on their petition.  For Harvard students divestment campaign, please sign this petition.
    Coalition includes:, Forecast the Facts, CREDO

    "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass... it is about learning to dance in the rain." ~ Vivanne Grenne Shop Kos Katalogue!

    by remembrance on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 04:58:42 AM PDT

  •  Glad to read about the improving polls in (11+ / 0-)

    battleground districts. I live in one, and the last 2 Cong races have been nail biters for my moderate/liberal congressman, Tim Bishop.

    •  As someone who grew up in NY-01, I always (9+ / 0-)

      try to send a donation to Tim Bishop. He's a good guy, and he is in a tight race.

    •  It's a Dem poll.. the new ABC poll is not so kind. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DRo, wintergreen8694, Cadillac64

      Public Preference for a GOP Congress Marks a New Low in Obama’s Approval

      Registered voters by 53-39 percent in the national survey say they’d rather see the Republicans in control of Congress as a counterbalance to Obama’s policies than a Democratic-led Congress to help support him. It was similar in fall 2010, when the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives and gained six Senate seats.
      Support of ACA down too:
      While he’s hailed insurance exchange sign-ups as a marker of the Affordable Care Act’s success, the program and his rating for handling it have lost ground, both down from their levels late last month after the website was stabilized. The law gets 44 percent support, down 5 points; Obama has just 37 percent approval for its implementation, down 7.
      •  Wording In That Question Always Generates (4+ / 0-)

        Numbers above 50% for support of the opposition party. The PDF (almost by way of admitting their question is bullshit) shows the results for the question in September of 2002 just before Bush had a successful  midterm. Poll showed 55% support for Democrats to keep Bush in check.

      •  But if we get those who prospered from ACA to vote (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bufffan20, TerryDarc, Cadillac64 keep it going this would also provide a counterbalance. The numbers are big enough in a midterm to win the election overall.

      •  It is all in the turnout. If "we" ever learn that (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Terrapin, TerryDarc, Cadillac64

        off elections are as, perhaps more important long term, than the big show years this bull shit will begin to end.

        From the Washington Post article about the grim Dem prospects:

        Republicans are favored to maintain control of the House, with the focus now on whether they can take control of the Senate. One key question about November is who will vote. Turnout in midterm elections is always lower than in presidential elections, and at this point, key elements of the Republican coalition — namely white voters and older voters — say they are more certain to cast ballots this fall than are younger voters and minorities, two groups that Democrats and Obama relied on in 2008 and 2012.
        So "young" or "minority" or "women" voters turn out if you don't want to keep getting screwed by stubborn, regressive and downright nasty TP/GOP action or at least obstructionism. If a woman named Comstock, local representative MS Vaginal Ultrasound, who ousted a pretty damn fine woman Democrat in the legislature here in Northern Virginia in 2009, gets in to replace Frank Wolf in VA-10 only those young, minority or women voters that decide they have more important things to do election time will be responsible. When they turn out the area "goes blue"—when "busy" it can go red.

        And please! No more whining about the cattle prods from the Democratic Party not being charged enough to get you to move in your own self interest!

        The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

        by pelagicray on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 06:44:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  This is one poll (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        askew, TerryDarc, Cadillac64

        All of the things measured in the poll move in tandem.

        The poll isn't "biased" in the sense that nobody rigged the sampling.  But it does have a bit of push-poll in it.  If you ask, "would you rather see a counterbalance of parties" there is always going to be a positive response.  In the mean time, we don't know where the sample fell.  (This isn't bias, it's just how statistics works.  There is a 5% probability that the poll will fall outside its margin of error, which is itself about 2.5 to 3 percent.  Some days, the gods of sampling error have a conservative bias.  Other days, they have a liberal bias.)

        And the most important "unskewings" are the following: (a) if the poll had asked a question to the effect of "does the sun revolve around the earth", what do you think the response would be?  (b) the ACA poll questions consistently tend not to break out how many people wanted Medicare-for-all or some Canadian-style single payer system.  That's usually around 20-25 percent, and varies with how well Obamacare is being treated in the media, e.g. if it looks like the ACA is in political trouble, that number goes down.

        And the most, most important unskewing is getting out the vote.  Especially in off-year state elections.

  •  It really ought to be illegal (8+ / 0-)

    for any landlord to run a credit check and refuse a tenancy based solely upon bad credit.

    It's monstrous, it's inhuman, and there are far too many reasons a person might have bad credit that have nothing whatever to do with their ability to actually pay their rent on time!

    •  Why should landlords be denied common sense (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TerryDarc, DRo, Cadillac64, SoCalSal, Amber6541

      business practices?

      I've been a landlord, but not by choice.  It was my very own condo that became untenable for our family to live in.  I couldn't sell at the time, so I had no choice but to rent it out.

      Why would I rent my home to someone who has a history of being unable or unwilling to pay their bills?  Do you have any idea of what it takes to evict someone for non-payment of rent?  In the meantime, I had to keep paying the mortgage and the HOA fees.  For years this was a $400 month cash drain, even with a reliable tenant.  

      Tenants with good credit always paid their rent on time over 20 years.  I was finally able to sell the unit last year.  I am not a monster nor inhuman.  

    •  really? (6+ / 0-)

      You've obviously never been in business, which is what being a landlord is. If the rent doesn't get paid, on time, every month, the landlord is quickly in a deep hole in terms of cash flow. The mortgage has to get paid, the real estate taxes have to get paid, the plumbing has to get fixed -- all with no income coming in, for months and months.

      Of course they will run a credit check. It's not inhuman. It's doing business. If the tenant has a good explanation -- a period of unemployment two years ago, but now they have a steady job adequate to support the rent -- then you can choose to let them rent anyway, but prohibiting them from knowing who's a deadbeat? Forget it.

  •  I am so glad to read the good news about (11+ / 0-)

    music education. Our local school district has an outstanding music program. All three of my kids were members of the orchestra from elementary school through high school graduation. My youngest even had the opportunity to play at Carnegie Hall.

  •  Capitalism cannot survive if people are treated (9+ / 0-)


    Capitalism will be hurt if victims are protected from predatory lending.

    If we cannot fuck the commoner, the country's economy will be in ruins.

    Please, quietly submit to your systematic victimization in the marketplace, in your quest for education, in your quest for anything, really: if you don't get ripped off needlessly by capitalists, you are cheating.

    Your victimization helps others: please just embrace it.

    Try to keep smiling, too.

    Legal means "good".
    [41984 | Feb 4, 2005]

    by xxdr zombiexx on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 05:09:31 AM PDT

  •  student loans should be outlawed (11+ / 0-)

    University education should be provided free by society just as high school education is.  In our technological society, a college education is no longer just a luxury for the elite--it is a necessity for all of us.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 05:10:21 AM PDT

  •  If the tea party consultants are basically (6+ / 0-)

    stealing their money, I hope they scam a whole bunch!

  •  Student Loans (10+ / 0-)

    are an unnecessary burden that the world's richest country shouldn't have.

    If people think that "loans" should be taken out, then fix them at the Federal Reserve Minimum Lending Rate ... make repayments through the payroll tax system and sunset the loans after twenty years.

    It's perfectly workable and would reduce both the burden and the economic consequences of default.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    Who is twigg?

    by twigg on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 05:26:03 AM PDT

    •  This has been a growing crisis for a long time (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hoghead99, Cadillac64

      It's one of nearly criminal neglect. Why hasn't the GOP in their near hyperventilation over national debt been at the front of the pack? How is it not part of our national debt and a stumbling block to the economy?  Especially when some of it can't be paid back? This shows their true priorities are more ideological than practical.

      Of course it's also fair to ask where the Democratic Party has been as well since it essentially established wide spread higher education as something common in our country - and elsewhere by example - around the world. But at least we will hopefully fix this over the next few years.

      Let's not forget the way we established it was by largely subsidizing it starting with the GI bill and later in other ways. One should again be able to pay off that debt in about a decade and without having to take on a second job to do so. Perhaps having the 'job creators' play a large role in funding those govt. subsidies would be the most practical way of doing this as they reap the profits of it collectively.

  •  As someone (9+ / 0-)

    who will be paying off my MBA until I retire - for a variety of reasons - including being unemployed for 15 months - 3 years ago and going back to school in my mid 30's.  I understand the no money to have to either save or spend to grow the economy.  I do count myself lucky though..

    On the other hand, the kids that are graduating with tons of debt will forever be afraid to ever take on that kind of debt again besides not having the ability to save for a house or retirement.  Imagine if we had spent the TRILLIONS we spent waging unnecessary wars giving anyone who wanted a free education at one of our many fine PUBLIC COLLEGES (private school you are on your own) - we could have a thriving economy.  But I guess that it too socialist..

    Why do Republicans Hate Americans?

    by Caniac41 on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 05:37:33 AM PDT

    •  Two years of public service? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TerryDarc, Cadillac64, offgrid

      What about offering students an option of completing two years of service in exchange for tuition, be it the military, forest service or some kind of new CCC? Work on restoring bridges for two years at a minimum wage, and we pay your tuition.

      (Note, I say 'a minimum wage', not necessarily minimum wage depending on the work.)

      “We can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all the other possibilities.” - Winston Chuchill

      by se portland on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 06:24:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Why kind of salary are you expecting? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      In my neck of the woods, starting salaries for MBAs are mid-30s.

      I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

      by CFAmick on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 08:18:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I get a completely different view of this country (12+ / 0-)

    at dailykos from what I get in my local rag, The WaPo. The latter says Obama's approval rating is very low. Here the news is that more and more people, even Rethugs, are embracing "Obamacare." I prefer the view from here.

    Thanks for the roundup, Georgia! That's interesting about the effects of studying music.  An ex-Army guy I worked with told me that he ran a U.S. Army computer center in Vietnam. He said he met every incoming flight of recruits and from them picked two types to help him at the computer center--music majors and math majors.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 05:37:54 AM PDT

    •  Not all that well known now, except in the circles (5+ / 0-)

      digging into WW II history, are the bits where code breaking and music intersect. Musicians were one of the recruiting pools for Bletchley and in both the RN (I think maybe the origin as I know it turns up pre-U.S. entry to the war) and USN ship's bands got recruited into code work. A quote from a quick hit that concerns the USS Arizona Band:

      Most of these men were absorbed into newly formed code-breaking units. An interesting fact grasped by the Navy is that knowledge of music lends itself well to the rhythm of code-breaking.

      Class of '41 survivors became early Pioneers in an elite unit responsible for deciphering the Japanese "purple" code. The Japanese Naval code remained elusive, but was eventually understood in fractions; read much as a musician observes his part and understands its place in the whole composition.

      Pattern recognition within a complex. Seeing a sub-pattern in the overall symphony. Here is another link from a discussion, "Breaking Elgar's enigmatic code," illustrating the connection.
      A study of the composer's papers reveals that for most of his life he was fascinated by cryptography. His letters and music scores, for example, are dotted with codes and anagrams. And the title of his Enigma Variations, first performed in 1899, hints at his delight in cryptic puzzles. He teasingly suggested that the melody on which his variations are based forms a counterpoint or matching voice to a well-known tune that is present in the piece only by implication. None of the many suggestions as to what this tune might be, including Auld Lang Syne and Rule Britannia, ring true, so the enigma remains.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 06:27:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's really interesting, pelagicray! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Thanks for this insight into a connection I hadn't really thought about before.

        "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

        by Diana in NoVa on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 09:56:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Apparently a true bent for music, beyond just (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Diana in NoVa

          playing really well, understanding the complex interactions and particularly "classical type" complexities was a strong indicator for success in the ranks of code breakers. If I recall they and mathematicians in certain fields, those where recognition of patterns out of complexity was strong, were the prime recruiting pool in those days before massive computing power could be tasked.

          It has been years since I really was up on the WW II work at Bletchley and our efforts here with Japanese codes, but I remember reading of the quiet approaches to brilliant musicians by those efforts for some sort of unmentioned war work.

          Ship's band members were an odd feature. Since ships never got into decoding beyond their own decoding books and machines those actively aboard ships did not break codes. If I recall, and it has been years, the British ship bands tended to have action stations in what we'd call CIC, aid stations and such. Some of those most likely to have the musical skills adaptable to code work were pulled off if I recall to staff cryptographic facilities.

          The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

          by pelagicray on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 10:47:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The math-music link is also well-documented (6+ / 0-)

      My son is one of them -- double major in music and computer science.

      Music also trains a person in habits of diligence and daily practice. I read that one of the key things young people need to know is how to set goals and work steadily toward them. (Actually not just young people; I have to keep relearning that one myself, whether it's running or writing or sorting boxes of junk.) Music of any variety teaches you that, especially if you're part of an ensemble -- you must learn your part, so that the whole ensemble does well, and there's pretty immediate feedback if you blow it.

  •  Pattern recognition, in my case, gets better (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cadillac64, Amber6541

    as I age.  I practice regularly and it's the one skill that doesn't show any sign of being affected by aging.

    I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

    by I love OCD on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 08:15:10 AM PDT

  •  Flip side (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I would rather these tea party groups steal the money then actually buy more adds with it.

    The downside is now they may start spending it on real things!

    The threat to our way of life comes from corporations, and the solution is to shrink corporations while freeing government from corporate control.

    by gbaked on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 08:25:56 AM PDT

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