How bad is the economy?
So bad that “our economy can’t afford the $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt, much of which may not get repaid because students don’t have the capacity to repay it,” President Barack Obama told college students at the University at Buffalo, N.Y.
So bad that “if you drop out of high school today, you’re basically condemned to poverty and social failure,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan told reporters prior to the president’s speech.
“There are no good jobs out there. If you have a high school diploma, there’s almost nothing for you,” Duncan admitted.
Each year, roughly 1.3 million Americans drop out of high school without diplomas. That’s about a third of all youths, suggesting that more than 50 million Americans do not have a high-school diploma, amid intense federal oversight of the government-run education system.
The numbers are worse for minorities that Obama says he want to aid.”Only 56 percent of Hispanic, 54 percent of African-American … students in the U.S. graduate with a regular diploma, compared to 77 percent of white students and 81 percent of Asian Americans,” according to the Alliance for Excellent Education.
The top-level confessions of economic paralysis came amid a rash of bad news.
The reports show a sustained drop in wages and family income, a gradual shift in employment from full-time to low-wage part-time work, and job growth that barely keeps pace with population growth and new immigration, despite four years of deficit-funded stimulus funding that have pushed the federal debt above $17 trillion.
The bad news comes as Obama pushes for an immigration rewrite that would invite 46 million foreign workers — most of whom would be the unskilled relatives of recent legal and illegal immigrants — over the next two decade to compete for jobs against the huge pool of unemployed and underemployed Americans.
That pool is estimated at 20 million to 57 million Americans, and includes people who are now looking for full-time jobs and those who would take jobs if wages were growing in a vibrant economy. The Senate immigration bill, passed in July, would allocate only up to 15 percent of green-cards to skilled immigrants.
Obama argued that the fix to the tightly-regulated, indebted economy is more federal spending and more regulation, plus more federal control of colleges and universities.
“Higher education cannot be a luxury — it is an economic imperative. Every American family should be able to afford to get it,” Obama declared, as he announced plans to leverage federal control over student loans into more federal control over colleges’ operations and admissions policies.
“Our national mission must be to profit off having the best-educated workforce in the world,” Obama told the Buffalo students, without mentioning his support for large-scale immigration of unskilled foreign workers.
The problem of student loans, which has grown 27 percent since 2008, can be ameliorated by capping the borrowers’ repayments at 10 percent of their income, he said.
“College has to be the goal, has to be the aspiration,” declared Duncan. “If we want to build a growing and thriving middle class, the only way to do that is to open the door to higher education, to make it more accessible, more affordable, make sure folks are graduating and have a chance to earn a good living.”
In contrast, GOP legislators and free-market advocates say the best way to improve the economy and education is curb federal regulation so that workers, entrepreneurs and companies can sell their products and services, including education.
The resulting economic growth, say GOP leaders, such as Sen. Jeff Sessions, will reduce public dependency on federal spending and help persuade more Americans to vote Republican.