c/o: Hon. Lamar Smith (R-TX-21st), U.S. Representative
2409 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
PH: 202-225-4236 FAX: 202-225-8628
Subject: Legislative questions for upcoming news & opinion coverage
Date: Friday, 16 March 2012
Dear Kim: (cc's as indicated in the footer)
Good afternoon. When I called earlier today, Ashley said you were not at your desk, and she suggested I email you, so I am trying to be timely in my reply. I have questions about H.R. 2028, The Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Fairness Act of 2011, and also H.R. 4170, The Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012.
I am the editor-in-chief of The Register, a conservative research blog, and also the most successful litigant on the pro-life side of the landmark 'Terri Schiavo' case, almost winning my case (see citation below). Since that is a far-fetched claim, I invited Ashley to Google my phone number from her caller ID and verify my claims that I am indeed as 'conservative' as (or more so than) your Congressman, so you all would rest assured that I am 'on your side' when the pen becomes mightier than the sword – and apparently Ashley, much to her credit, did (see email attachment of web tracker) .
 In Re: GORDON WAYNE WATTS (as next friend of THERESA MARIE ?TERRI? SCHIAVO), No. SC03-2420 (Fla. Feb.23, 2003), denied 4-3 on rehearing. http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/clerk/dispositions/2005/2/03-2420reh.pdf
 In Re: JEB BUSH, GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA, ET AL. v. MICHAEL SCHIAVO, GUARDIAN: THERESA SCHIAVO, No. SC04-925 (Fla. Oct.21, 2004), denied 7-0 on rehearing. http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/clerk/dispositions/2004/10/04-925reh.pdf
 Schiavo ex rel. Schindler v. Schiavo ex rel. Schiavo, 403 F.3d 1223, 2005 WL 648897 (11th Cir. Mar.23, 2005), denied 2-1 on appeal. http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/ops/200511628.pdf
First, my sources inform me that Rep. Smith, in his capacity of chair of the House Judiciary Committee, tabled HR 2028, and gave the following reply to a constituent (see the attached screen shot to verify) about why he won't support HR 2028.
"Thank you for contacting me about H.R. 2028, the Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Fairness Act of 2011. Current bankruptcy law prevents a debtor from discharging student loan debts except when the inability to repay the loan results from an undue hardship. The non-dischargeability of student loans is actually a benefit to borrowers: it makes loans less risky, so lenders charge a relatively low interest rate. Currently, a student borrower can borrow for about 2-5% from a private lender. In comparison, credit card debt, which is dischargeable in bankruptcy, usually bears a double-digit interest rate.
The Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Fairness Act amends the Bankruptcy Code so that only private student loans may be discharged in bankruptcy; government-sponsored loans would remain non-dischargeable. The bill discriminates in the student-loan market on the basis of what type of entity—public or private—is making the loan. H.R. 2028 would result in private student lenders' charging substantially higher interest rates for their products, possibly to the point at which those lenders are no longer competitive with government-subsidized loans. I do not support this legislation because I do not want to deprive students of the ability to borrow from private lenders at competitive market rates" (end of quote)
I have been commissioned by my boss, who is apparently incensed over this issue, to write news and opinion on these bill, and I've been given wide leeway as to how I will edotirialise this issue.
It is my judgment, as a solid conservative, that Rep. Smith has dishonoured his conservative heritage in a number of ways, and I am planning to write just this, but before I do so, I would like to give the Congressman and his staff full opportunity to compare notes with me before I write that he is off-centre and in “liberal” left field here. – Briefly, here are my concerns:
First, regarding HR 2028 (2011), assuming my sources are correct on Mr. Smith's stance above (are they?), he is correct in his factual assertion that instituting bankruptcy protections for private Student Loans would scare banks, and thus drive up Interest Rates to compensate, and thereby make Private Student Loans less available. Additionally, Rep. Smith makes a claim that 2028 is prejudiced or discriminates, that is, addresses only Private Student Loans, not Federal ones.
Lamar is correct on all points, above; h owever, he strays from the 'conservative camp' in a very disturbing way after that:
(#1) First off, Rep. Smith is 'liberal' in his statement that “I do not want to deprive students of the ability to borrow from private lenders.” When the government steps in and removes Standard Consumer Protections from 'Private' Loans, this is 'Big Government' intervention (making said loans less private and more Federal). No true conservative likes Big Government meddling, because this distorts the Free Market. (Specifically, colleges charge more when they know students can not file for bankruptcy, and predatory lending results.)
(#2) Although he did not address Federal Loans directly, his silence here is all the proof I need that Rep. Smith is in favour of Federal Loans (whether the Federal Government makes the loan or merely guarantees it -both have been done). This is the worst form of liberal 'Big Government' meddling, because the 'easy loan' monies are precisely what distorted the Free Market in the housing market (think: sub-prime crisis), and caused a Housing Bubble. POINT: Both 'Big Government' meddling AND distortion of the 'Free Market' are also blue-state 'liberal.'
In layman's terms, every time U.S. Congress raised the loan limits for Student Loans, colleges raised prices to match, because they knew students could afford more. This drove the tuition to increase at a rate MUCH faster than inflation, which was not justified, since U.S. Higher Education is gone DOWN in recent years, as America continues to fall behind other nations in math and the sciences –and the workforce.
Additionally, since tuition has gone through the roof, and an education become unaffordable, College Debt has, for the first time in America's history, surpassed Credit Card debt, which was a prime driver of the default rates having soared.
The record-high default rates among student borrowers (who were just trying to better themselves) have resulted in reports that the suicide among students have become MUCH more frequent, and somebody has blood on their hands. Suicide, while not morally 'right,' nonetheless is a reality: It is what it is, and this disturbing new trend didn't happen without cause or reason.
(#3) Since this intervention has driven tuition up, students are over-taxed: Tuition is legally a tax, by the definition: It is funding going into an arm of the government, State Colleges, in most cases, an arm of State Government: Students are over-taxed, and this is LIBERAL.
Students should not get a free handout (free education), as this, too is liberal, but in any bankruptcy proceedings, the person discharging a loan here usually has to pay something and usually does NOT get off “Scot free.”
(#4) You saw the issue of suicide above, and this is a fact, as documented in this Research Paper:
Any 'True Conservative' understands “Conservative Moral Rights and Wrongs,” and it is is morally wrong (and liberal) to allow students to enter indentured servitude, a form of debt slavery, simply because they must get an education to have a chance to get a job, support themselves, and have a meaningful chance to enjoy the rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
While we're on the topic of slavery, Kim, let me remind you that “those Democrats” (and other liberals) regularly portray us Republicans and Conservatives as 'prejudiced' and 'against Blacks,' 'for slavery' and other things I can not even begin to name. However, some of their criticisms are true, and we must own up to that and stop at once! Slavery, no matter the oppressed group (be it Blacks, Native Americans, or 'debt slaves') are slaves just the same, and that is either right or wrong: It is wrong.
(#5) Another 'moral' point here: If Credit Card users can have all the Standard Consumer Protections that almost all borrowers have (e.g., truth in lending; bankruptcy proceedings; statutes of limits; the right to refinance; adherence to usury laws; and, Fair Debt & Collection practices, etc.), then why not students? – Is that 'morally right?'
Now, as I said earlier, Lamar was right in his claims that 2028 was discriminatory (aka 'prejudiced') against Federal Loans. However, if he is sincere about his claims, I would think he should write a bill that restores all Std Cons Protections to both Private and Federal loans, because the present state of affairs “discriminates” against (is prejudiced against) all student loans. Mr. Smith's use of the word 'discriminates' is correct, so he should take steps to fix the problem: The law is prejudiced against students.
(#6) Red State Conservatives honour the 'Rule of Law,' and yet do nothing when colleges and Universities have a monopoly on American Higher Education, and collude to keep tuition unattainably high. The definition of a monopoly is easily-found: It is:
mo·nop·o·ly – [muh-nop-uh-lee]
noun, plural -lies.
1. exclusive control of a commodity or service in a particular market, or a control that makes possible the manipulation of prices. Compare duopoly, oligopoly.
2. an exclusive privilege to carry on a business, traffic, or service, granted by a government.
3. the exclusive possession or control of something.
4. something that is the subject of such control, as a commodity or service.
5. a company or group that has such control.
Americans colleges do have exclusive control of Higher Education in America, not unlike power and utility companies (whose prices are regulated to prevent illegal monopoly), but students are a much smaller population than home-owners & renters, so it seems that they are not protected similarly, even while power companies & utilities (gas, water, telephone, Internet, etc.), are not allowed to jack up prices. (In other words, colleges are guilty as well as liberals in the Federal Government, but the same liberal Federal Lawmakers allow this illegal monopoly to exist, unconcerned regarding the 'Conservative Rule of Law.')
Critics often say students have “many” choices for college in America, and that is true: However, NONE of these choices is affordable, thus there is a monopoly by the legal definition, and this is illegal and immoral (as well as impractical: America is becoming dumbed-down, as we can not afford to obtain an education).
CONCLUSION: H.R. 2028
So, in conclusion regarding HR 2028, I'd like to know whether Rep. Smith's views are indeed what he is alleged to have told a constituent. If so, the op-ed piece will not look good, but rest assured, I am not “out to get” anyone, most especially my conservative fellow-Republicans in Congress, and if we can compare notes, I will do my part to be respectful and accurate in my upcoming Editorial.
Now, regarding, H.R. 4170, The Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012:
It has been introduced by U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI-13th), and you can read the text: It is all of 18 pages long, not a lengthy read. (See the links below or the attached PDF).
Web page: http://http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112hr4170ih/xml/BILLS-112hr4170ih.xml
Library of Congress: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.4170.IH:
And, if these are not available, here are off-site caches:
Rob Applebaum's site: http://www.ForgiveStudentLoanDebt.com/content/student-loan-forgiveness-act-2012-hr-4170-bill-text
My site (mirror 1) http://gordonwatts.com/FannyDeregulation/BILLS-112hr4170ih.pdf
My site (mirror 2) http://gordonwaynewatts.com/FannyDeregulation/BILLS-112hr4170ih.pdf
Normally, I (a conservative) am not in favour of a person wiggling out of their contractual obligations (read: Student Debt), but since students were obscenely over-taxed via skyrocketing tuition, a partial refund is due, and Mr. Clarke's bill would effect such a change. (Also, lenders & colleges would be less likely to illegally price-gouge students, as is the current situation, if they knew students could defend themselves.)
Presently, interest and fees can double or triple a College Loan, which is already about 8 to 10 times the Free Market Value of college (as computed in my research paper, linked above), meaning a student could pay triple “ten times,” or thirty (yes, 30) times what a college education is worth, all the while **liberal** educators in Higher Ed feature “million dollar” college presidents, “million dollar” coaches (which should not be: Education, not sports, should be the focus), 6-figure tenured professors, and useless liberal building project, and other expenditures.
A liberal higher ed administrator never found a tax he did not like to spend on a 'pet project.'
Actually, we should heed the call of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14th), who has called on 'phasing out' the Student Loan programs, and getting the Federal Government **out** of Higher Education, and letting the Free Market have free reign, so that the market would drop, and tuition would, once again, become affordable.
This would do two things:
It would save a load of taxpayer monies that would not need to be expended on making or guaranteeing loans, and,
It would save students tons of money, as tuition would drop like a rock.
Two other things would happen:
Banks and other lenders would be very unhappy they could not pillage students and longer; and,
Colleges & Universities would have to live within their means, as they did in the past, when America's colleges were the top in the world, and liberals did not have free reign to loot the kitty and rape taxpayers for stupid liberal projects.
I do not “hate” banks (I am a conservative Republican, remember), but they must not get more than their fair share, through “legal theft” and onerous usury and fees.
Likely, the Congressman's thoughts on HR4170(2011) will be similar to his views on HR2028(2012), so I would like to get feedback on my concerns on 4170, more especially since it is the older of the 2 bills. Nonetheless, if I have made some good points, Kim, perhaps Rep. Smith can “Reach across the isle” to his Democratic colleague, Rep. Clarke of Michigan, and co-sponsor this bill, and review my it, in light of my concerns.
While I AM not perfect, nonetheless, I am a conservative writer, blogger, and voter, and a conservative Christian, and I do NOT seek a 'Free Handout' for students –only their just due. (I'd go to bat for the banks if the roles were reversed, and they became victimised, just as I did for the late Theresa 'Terri' Schiavo, in which case I nearly won my landmark case, losing a bitter 4-3 split decision before The Supreme Court of Florida.)
Thank you for your time and efforts here, Kim. I endeavor to make Rep. Smith and his colleagues and staff feel welcome as we address these matters and venture into the undiscovered country – the future. I eagerly await your response, and I value the thoughts and concerns of Mr. Smith and his colleagues.
PS: As I have mentioned a few people in my email, I shall include them a Bcc (Blind Carbon Copy).
Robert Applebaum was the source of one of the links above, and he offered input and research assistance to Rep. Clarke for writing HR4170(2011).
Alan Collinge, also blind cc'ed, is the author of the group shown in the attached screen shot; Mr. Collinge is also a consumer rights advocate who supports HR2028(2012).
I am including myself 'file copies.' All the eyes of the world are upon your office, and I wish you well, as you address this matter.
With kind regards, I am, Sincerely,