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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Herseth Sandlin Votes Against Pell Grant Expansion and Student Loan Reform

Remember last weekend when I steamed up over KELO's biased coverage of President Obama's propsoed student loan reforms? I thought maybe we could find some balance to Senator John Thune's pro-usury propaganda by turning to one of our leading Democrats, a supporter of President Obama, someone like, oh, maybe, Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

Nope. Thursday SHS was one of four Democrats in the U.S. House to vote against H.R. 3221, the Student Aid and Financial Responsibility Act of 2009. She voted against increased funding for Pell Grants, construction money for public schools and community colleges, environmental and energy efficiency upgrades in schools, lower interest rates for student borrowers, simpler financial aid forms, and $87 billion dollars in savings for taxpayers, all because she buys the Thune/Rounds banker propaganda:

"The enactment of this bill in this form could result in the loss of hundreds if not thousands of jobs in South Dakota during a period of higher unemployment," she told reporters Thursday, mentioning Student Loan Corp. in Sioux Falls, a subsidiary of Citi. "I have concerns about completely eliminating a role for private sector and the relationship that private lenders in South Dakota have with our universities and colleges, and any potential disruption and access to loans for students that could occur during the proposed transition to a new system." [Ledyard King, "Student Loan Reform Could Cost S. Dakota," that Sioux Falls paper, 2009.09.18]

Enactment of this bill would also result in hundreds if not thousands of South Dakotans finding college more affordable and being able to get the training they need for new jobs during a period of higher unemployment. But evidently SHS and Thune alike would prefer to see $87 billion of wasteful government spending subsidize a few South Dakota banking jobs (specific numbers on which Citi VP Public Affairs Mark Rodgers declines to give).

I'd suggest that SHS is letting donations from the finance industry sway her vote, but I'm sure she'd find such a suggestion "ridiculous".

Perhaps fellow Dems can take heart: Stephanie Herseth Sandlin still votes with the Democratic majority 94.1% of the time. By that measure, she's as Democratic as Reps. Eric Cantor, Dan Burton, and Dan Lungren are Republican.

But when I can look back over this summer and rattle off votes and positions—student loan reform, American Clean Energy and Security Act, Food Safety Enhancement Act, health care reform—where Rep. Herseth Sandlin sounds a lot more like a big-business Republican than a Democrat, I can't help hoping for a nice primary challenge from a good Wellstone Democrat, a McGovern Democrat, a Democrat who will be a Democrat on the hard issues.


  1. I have to say the student loan industry is an all around mess that is little more than enabling university regents to continuously jack up tuition for little if any justification. stripping the private sector out of the government subsidizing of student loans just solidifies a government monopoly in place of virtual corporate welfare.
    I would like the loans to come from the private sector without the government subsidy and only guarantees on the principle and the government only involved in Pell Grants, not based in the tuition at a given school, but based on the average tuition statewide.

  2. Cory, why don't you challenge her in the primary?

  3. ...because, Stan, I'm writing a dissertation, and because I'm banking on a draft-McGovern movement. :-)

  4. Daft McGovern: because Medicare isn't going bankrupt fast enough

  5. McGovern's youth and inexperience would make him unelectable.


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