Congressman's John Kline's legislative track record shows an unparalleled enthusiasm for saddling kids with student loan debt.
Kline, the influential chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, can do more than almost anyone on Capitol Hill to provide relief to indebted college students. Yet he's repeatedly shown a loyalty to the very companies who make bank off higher ed lending.
Kline now says he feels the pain of those willing to go in the hole for a shot at a better future.
"I am committed to keeping the dream of postsecondary education within reach for Minnesotans and all Americans," read his editorial published last week in the Rosemont Town Pages. "The cost of pursuing a college degree continues to put an enormous strain on students and their families."
These words come from the man who, just last year, played resolute obstructionist to efforts aimed at giving relief to the millions whose aggregate college debt is around $1 trillion.
In fact, Kline was so successful in stopping higher education lending reform that student loan rates jumped even higher, pushing 5 percent when other House members had fought to cap them at 3.4 percent.
The reason behind Kline's recent editorial spiel was President Obama's misguided idea to tax 529 college savings plans. Although the president swiftly abandoned the initiative, Kline, the self-proclaimed pork-cutting conservative, was inspired to pen the letter calling out his political foe.
"Most parents share the dream that their children can seek the best education they can to ensure every opportunity to succeed is afforded to them," Kilne also wrote.
The congressman's editorial failed to mention his tireless efforts to protect for-profit colleges from any meaningful government oversight or regulatory accountability, including Minnesota-based Rasmussen College, where an associate's degree in business management costs more than $30,000.
In contrast, the same degree at Normandale Community College runs about $10,000.
The for-profit higher ed sector currently receives 80 percent of its revenues -- about $33 billion -- from federal taxpayers in the form of student loans and grants.
Two-thirds of its students never graduate.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), a nonpartisan group that tracks money in politics, Kline ranks second only to Rep. Jon Boehner (R-OH) in campaign contributions from student loan companies during the past two election cycles.
The student debt crisis plays particularly heavy in Minnesota.
According to the Project on Student Debt, which works to expand educational opportunities as well as protect the financial interests of families, Minnesota college goers average $31,000 in student debt.
That represents the fifth largest student loan debt millstone of any state.
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