The Young Politica: What’s Next for Student Loans

In my last column, I wrote about how the sequester could deeply impact students of all ages—by cutting education jobs, programs like Head Start, food stamps, and limiting financial aid. Well, once again, kids trying to get an education are at risk of being undercut by the federal government.

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The interest rate of new federally subsidized Stafford loans will revert to 6.8 percent from 3.4 percent. The rate subsidized loans, which go to low-income households, was supposed to rise to 6.8 percent back in June 2012, but the rate’s expiration was postponed for a year. This year’s extension lasts until June 30, 2013. If Congress does not act to change the rules or extend the loan rate expiration date, an estimated 7.4 million college students will be affected.

Note that each year the date to change the rate is extended, the federal government loses out on about $6 billion in revenue. But students don’t necessarily have to be the ones paying the price. If there would have been more oversight on the financial aid process, the federal government could have prevented a loss of $200 million in federal student aid fraud since 2009.

What’s a good solution? Rather than postponing the expiration again, the House Education and the Workforce Committee argued that Congress should reevaluate their rate-setting process for all government-issued college loans.

FoxNews.com reports that the Department of Education has also been sending out letters to inform Direct PLUS Loan borrowers that their fees are being raised as a direct result of the automatic budget cuts (or the sequester) that happened after the federal government could not come to a fiscal agreement. Fees for loans issued after March 1, 2013, will have an adjusted loan rate fee—from 4.0 percent to 4.204 percent.

Students are taking more and more hits, but at least they’re putting up a fight.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities are not ruling out suing the Obama administration for disproportionately affecting their students with new financial aid policies. The policies, which were enacted in October 2011, allow a Direct PLUS Loan borrower’s credit to be checked back five years—rather than the previous 90-days standard. This limits many students, especially students from a low-income background, from being able to take out these loans without having a parent with a spotless credit history.

On the upside, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced new rules that will be enacted to protect borrowers from federal loan servicers, which collect debts from student lenders.

The new rules will require all servicing firms to be subject to audits by the CFPB, according to the Huffington Post. The new rules aim to make servicers accountable by investigating possible reports that may mislead borrowers on their rights and terms of their loans. The end goal for the borrower is to avoid ruining their credit.

Today, the nation’s student loan debt surpasses credit card debt.

Maybe a complete overhaul of the system may seem like the next step, given that nothing else seems to be working. But instead of only impacting students who are striving to get an education, maybe we should be focusing on oversight the federal government has slacked off on instead.

 

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com

The Young Politica: Students Should Brace for the Sequester

Once again, we’ve waited until the last minute to try and fix our fiscal problems. This time, it’s the sequester that will go into effect on March 1st unless Congress acts. sequester

If the sequester goes into effect, about one trillion dollars of federal spending will get cut—half of the cuts going towards defense ($42.7 billion). These cuts may cause furloughs in defense sectors (military, airport security) and other cuts may leave many teachers out of jobs.

About $3 billion of sequester  cuts will go towards education. According to the National Education Association the sequester will result in: 

  • Services cut or eliminated for millions of students.
  • Funding for children living in poverty, special education, and Head Start slashed by billions.
  • Ballooning class sizes.
  • Elimination of after-school programs.
  • Decimation of programs for our most vulnerable—homeless students, English language learners, and high-poverty, struggling schools.
  • Slashing of financial aid for college students.
  • Loss of tens of thousands of education jobs—at early childhood, elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels.

However, the education cuts can be made smarter in a smarter way. Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, suggested reallocating funds may ease the blow for students. He cites a previous change in budgeting:
“We took $68 billion that was going to subsidize bankers from our student loan program…put about $28 billion to cut the deficit…$40 billion to increase Pell grants. We’ve gone from six million Pell recipients to about nine million Pell recipients without going to taxpayers for a nickel.”

The sequester was built to be an ultimatum that forced politicians to revisit the government’s budget. However, delay towards addressing the issue has created bipartisan distaste for the imminent measures. Neither side wants this plan to become permanently enacted. Yet, neither wants to see their side lose, even a little bit.

Why has there been such a delay? Well, for starters, President Obama wants to replace the sequester with a new deal that includes increased taxes and spending cuts. Another option would have been John Boehner’s plan B, which would reallocate cuts towards food stamps, the Affordable Care Act, and Dodd-Frank. While plan B seems to be a manifesto of Republican ideals for government spending, these cuts most likely will not go through this time around.

As the decision date nears, schools are handing teachers pink slips that say they will not be able to return next fall. It’s not just the workers that need to worry; it’s students, too. With decreases in financial aid, special education programs and Head Start losing funds, students of all ages will be losing out on their education if the sequester is enacted as is.

The problem with the sequester dates back to 2011, when it was passed as part of the debt ceiling compromise. When a deal was reached to stop us from falling off the fiscal cliff, the sequester was subsequently delayed until March. We’ve known about this problem for about two years, yet we’re only trying to fix the cuts about a week before they go into effect. Way to go, Washington.

It is time for each party to make some sacrifices and compromises for the benefit of the American people.

 

 

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com

The Young Politica: Scoring Obama’s New College Scorecard

During last Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama revealed the new College Scorecard, which aims to help prospective college students decide which schools would be right for them based on several variables (cost, distance, etc.).collegescoreboard

A yet-to-be-seen component of the site is each college’s return on investment (ROI). This will highlight colleges that have the most ‘bang for your educational buck’.

Bill Destler for the Huffington Post, argued that forcing all schools through the same ROI filter may hinder some schools’ ability to compete. Destler does not think all schools are equal. He cites the Rochester Institute of Technology, which has a 10% deaf or hard-of-hearing population.

“…deaf graduates from RIT are employed at a much higher rate than the deaf population as a whole, they still have a more difficult time finding employment and they don’t earn as much on average as their hearing counterparts.”

Should RIT be judged on the same level as every other school when it has this special interest in mind?

The scorecard makes makes macroeconomic sense when the idea is to show students the most affordable colleges. After all, that’s why the college scorecard was created in the first place—to educate prospective college students on their most affordable options in order to slow the increase of the national debt.

In order to score high on the ROI, schools would need to sacrifice arts and soft sciences programs—which, overall, have lower-paying wages and less use for the federal government. Even though these programs are already fading because they are underfunded by the government, they will continue to hinder their respective university’s ROI. In the coming years, we’ll see more schools contemplating over whether these programs economically valuable enough to keep.

Affordability and majors available at a university are only a few parts of the spectrum which encompasses a student’s interests when selecting a school. What if a student thinks they would learn more at a small college? What if they wanted to attend a Historically Black College? According to the Huffington Post, instead of taking these into account, the ROI filters using these three characteristics: cost of attendance, graduation rate, and high employment rate and salaries for graduates.

Thus, schools which have low graduation rates because of academic competitiveness may be subject to ROI scrutiny. The ROI completely ignores trades which see service, rather than pay rates, as the reward in return. Teachers may not be paid as much as biologists, but they provide a service that is necessary for our economy.

The new College Scorecard will have trouble providing prospective college students with an objective view of which college they should attend, because each student holds different values for what they consider to be a valuable education. Even within each school program, there is discrepancy between why one chooses to attend. I chose to attend New York University, not for its affordability, but for its proximity to jobs in media. My roommate, however, chose NYU because she was granted a large scholarship for majoring in the sciences.

The College Scorecard is great for assessing the overall financial value of a trade school, college, or university. However, I urge prospective college students not to use this scorecard as a foundation for your school choice, but as one tool in your research toolbox when deciding where to attend.

 

 

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com

The Young Politica: Harness the Power of Our New Generation’s Tools

During times of political strife—heck, even in times of political triumph—the university has been a place of radical discourse that explores and encourages academic examination of political norms. It’s supposed to be a safe haven for dialogues that aren’t so popular in mainstream USA. For example, the recent controversy over a pro-Palestine forum at Brooklyn College.students

We’ve always been the liberal crowd, but in recent years, it seems like there’s been a wane of liberal activism within the university. It wasn’t until the Occupy movement that students were reinvigorated with a passion similar to the student strikes against the war in Vietnam. But unlike the anti-war protests, those protesting with Occupy saw few fruits for their labor in terms of government recognition and reform.

For the past few decades, college students have trended more conservative than their 1960’s and 1970’s counterparts. Thus, more and more American students are calling themselves middle-of-the-road. A recent UCLA study claims that college students’ central political views are shifting left. That means that more students who consider themselves ‘middle of the road’ are leaning towards liberal legislation.

This shift from center may lead to a paradigm shift within what all Americans see as ‘middle-of-the-road’. We saw a victory for the left in the 2012 election because of the youth vote. It isn’t far cry off to say that our views will become the new normal in just a couple of decades.

As we begin to infiltrate political ranks and take on powerful leadership roles, our middle will easily become everyone else’s middle. Consider this: our generation of Americans is comprised of more minorities than generations past. Thus, our voting patterns tend to reflect what will benefit minorities the most.

Is it really any surprise that our middle-of-the-road is shifting left, though? Our generation sees their dreams as one student loan away. They are betting on their futures and the government is betting on them, too. Increasingly, our generation is betting on the future in other ways as well. Investing interest in climate change has gained more momentum than ever in the student community.

According to the UCLA survey:

“…roughly two-thirds (66.4%) of students who identified themselves as middle-of-the-road agreed that the wealthy should pay more taxes, which represented a 6.5 percentage point increase for the same group in 2008.” And “support for same-sex couples having the right to legal marital status is widespread amongst first-year college students, and continues to show gains.”

Perhaps the failure of Occupy was a lesson for our generation—we should be embracing new tactics instead of reverting to the strategies our parent’s used. Just like we use Wikipedia now instead of sifting 20 volumes of books, our generation should harness their power by infiltrating the big wigs with votes—not by ineffectively striking against them in small numbers. Through the power of the internet, we can appear in larger numbers than the crowds of folks who marched against the war in Vietnam. While it may seem like a passive use of power, it can be just as effective. On the ground organizing is always going to be important; it is always going to have a place in instigating change. However, there is power in numbers—even if those number are online or in votes.

By harnessing our power with our generation’s new tools, we can shift Washington’s middle-of-the-road perspective in the near future.

 

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com

The Young Politica: Why the Paycheck Fairness Act Will Narrow the Wage Gap

Last week, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would allow employees to discuss their salary information without the fear of companies pursuing legal action against them.mikulkski

The bill is on its third try. In a 2010 senate vote, the bill failed to get any Republican support, even by the female Republican Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), who all voted for the Lilly Ledbetter Act.

According to Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), the Fair Pay Act will:

• Amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to prohibit discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex, race or national origin;

• Require employers to give equal pay for jobs that are comparable in skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions;

• Prohibit companies from reducing other employees’ wages to achieve pay equity;

• Require public disclosure of employer job categories and pay scales, without requiring specific information on individual employees; and

• Allow payment of different wages under a seniority system, merit system, or system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production.

The bill makes perfect sense—give all female workers a chance to see what their equal male counterparts are earning, and see if it matches up without getting sued by employers. In an economy where women earn some 33% less than males, why wouldn’t politicians see this as a good measure for ensuring equal rights?

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Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA)  summed it up best back in June 2012:

“Where are these women supposed to go? What are they supposed to do? Have an appointment with their congressman? Show the congressman their paycheck?”

The split seems to stem from complications that might affect employers. Crisitina Hoff Sommers, author of “Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women,” cites market forces as the difference in pay for similar jobs—like a business school professor (a male-dominated field) vs. a social work professor (a female-dominated field). Sommers argues that the gender theory behind the bill sees the higher wages as part of society’s sexist attitudes. “Under the bill, it’s not enough for an employer to guard against intentional discrimination,” Sommers said. “It also has to police potentially discriminatory assumptions behind market-driven wage disparities that have nothing to do with sexism. ”

Political opponents of the bill said that it could bring excessive litigation of the small business community. However, this excess litigation seems like a poor excuse on behalf of the Republican party.

Even if it were true, it seems like litigation is a small price to pay for a large boost in the economy and large boost for most middle-class Americans. Sommers’ argument presents me with a question: how do we value work today and is that how we should be valuing work when fighting for equal rights among both genders? Is it any surprise that we monetarily value a maid, a female-dominated work position, less than we value a janitor, a male-dominated work position, despite the fact that they both have similar jobs?

This bill is not radical legislation. It should not even be a topic of controversy among opposing parties. It helps facilitate equal rights among Americans. Who could possibly be against that?

 

 

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com

The Young Politica: How Increasing Girls in STEM Programs Can Improve the Nation

In your junior high science classes, how many female scientific pioneers were in your textbook? I doubt that there were more than a handful.

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In freshmen geometry class, did you learn about any famous female mathematicians? Probably not. I did not know about Sally Ride until I graduated from high school and even today, I could not tell you about any legendary female mathematicians.

Pioneering women have been historically absent from all school subjects, not just science and mathematics, since the dawn of the schoolhouse.

Even these days, when more women are going to college than men in this country, there remains a lack of women entering science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) career fields. The reasons for the interest gap are complicated, according to Christi Corbett, senior researcher for the American Association of University of Women.

“The direction of scientific inquiry is influenced by the people doing the work,” Corbett told me over the phone. Women comprise only 20% of the bachelor’s degrees in engineering and computer science fields. One can infer that women must then only make about 20% of the decisions in, say, scientific research.

Corbett helped compile Why So Few?—a comprehensive report that tries to solve why so few women are entering STEM fields. According to the studies in the report, there are still stereotypes which discourage girls from applying themselves towards STEM careers; girls tend to assess their abilities in STEM fields lower than boys do, even when they have similar scores; and girls tend to go into ‘helping’ professions (e.g. nursing), rather than higher-paying jobs in STEM fields that do not get as much recognition for helping others (e.g. engineering).

These girls’ lack of confidence and lack of encouragement by others even contributes to the gender wage gap, because STEM careers tend to have higher salaries than careers in social sciences and humanities.

“If there aren’t any women in STEM fields then there are ideas aren’t being brought to the table,” Christi Corbett said.

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So what’s being done to solve this problem? In the past year, the United States government has taken the initiative to plan new STEM projects and fund existing programs. I would have loved to have been a part of their new NASA G.I.R.L.S. program when I was younger!

AAUW is launching two of their STEM programs nationwide: Tech Savvy and Tech Trek. Tech Savvy is a conference that provides a day of workshops to sixth-to ninth-grade girls and their parents. Tech Trek takes 12-13 year old girls to college campuses, offering interactive classes and field trips with women professionals, offering real-life role-models to girls interested in the STEM fields.

It seems that though the shift to more female scientists and engineers may be slower than other fields women have infiltrated, it is improving.

“It’s nice to see that things are changing,” Corbett commented. “Women have infiltrated in all the majors and now they are finally beginning to see STEM role models.”

The efforts made to ensure that more girls enter these fields should be heavily supported, because an increase in high-paying STEM workers means a smarter nation and a wealthier nation.

 

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com

The Young Politica: The Growing Debate On Unpaid Internships

Internships are awesome. They look great on a résumé and they help you hone your craft with real-world experience. As a journalism student, I’ve heard the same advice many times: “Do as many internships as you can.” So I have done internships, both paid and unpaid, for the sake of gaining some experience while I’m still in school.intern

Within my school and other universities across the nation, it seems like full-time, unpaid internships are a common practice. For many, these unpaid internships are taken at the cost of relocating away from school (e.g. taking a summer internship in NYC) and/or paying for extra school credit. See, that’s a loophole, folks. As long as it is labeled as ‘educational’, an employer does not have to pay its intern. In reality, paying interns is not about thriving, really; it’s about surviving. Many times, a student is not even reimbursed for housing, food, or transportation.

But there’s a group going against the current, telling students to resist unpaid work. #PayGenY, an initiative sponsored by She Negotiates Consulting and Training, argues that most unpaid internships are illegal.

“We have a very simple lesson: influence for-profit employers, university and professional schools to pay interns,” Victoria Pynchon, co-founder of She Negotiates, said.

The group is starting locally by asking universities in California to stop posting internship announcements for for-profit businesses and even some non-profits, if they don’t provide a living wage to students.

Today’s unpaid interns are working jobs that would have paid others at entry level. Sometimes their work, Pynchon noted, is “mostly clerical.” By replacing these often routine but necessary jobs with unpaid interns, companies are eliminating an entire workforce. Not to mention, using interns for clerical work in this way often violates the Fair Labor Standards Act.

As per usual, women and low-income students get the short end of the stick: “Women are trying to pay off their debts 20-30% longer and they’re getting paid less than their male counterparts,” Pynchon added.

And those students whose parents earn less than the rest of their peers? Many of them cannot afford to pay for extra school credits, let alone work for free. Thus, there is a cycle perpetuated by these corporations, which limits students who come from difficult financial circumstances. Some companies offering unpaid internships acknowledge the gap between low-income and high-income interns (like opportunities for interns in the New Corporation Diversity Program, which I was a part of), which is a step in #PayGenY’s direction.

However, there’s still something off about the bigger picture and many former interns are catching on. Recent lawsuits against Hearst, Harper’s Bazaar, and Fox Searchlight suggest that perhaps for-profit employers may be exploiting the rights of these students, who often work what could be considered a full-time job for free—while still attending to school.

The struggles of unpaid interns have even hit the mainstream. Take, for example, the discussion sparked by the HBO show Girls. At the start of season one, my fictitious kindred spirit, Hannah, attempts to negotiate a paid job from her unpaid internship at a publisher, where she has worked for two years. She is promptly fired.

“It’s a question of consciousness-raising…[for these] widespread scoff laws,” Pynchon said.

It was not until Victoria Pynchon paid a visit to Chelsea Akin’s class that Akin first heard someone say that students should not take unpaid internships.

Akin, who works with #PayGenY, chimed in over the phone: “I thought unpaid internships were the norm.”

The movement is not just supported by Generation Y. Pynchon is a veteran lawyer who has spearheaded #PayGenY’s plan. “My education cost me next to nothing. [Yet even then] I couldn’t take free work…no one has ever told [Generation Y] not to work for free,” Pynchon concluded. “We are not being responsible to the upcoming generation.”

 

 

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com

The Young Politica: After the Fiscal Cliff, What?

For now, it seems that the fiscal cliff crisis has been temporarily adverted. The Senate and House approved the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which has prevented old budgeting from sending the country hurtling down the Fiscal Cliff.ypcongress

But don’t get too excited. The battle isn’t over and in some ways it’s just beginning. The new deal, which is designed to keep our economy from another recession, increases taxing on the wealthy but has temporarily halted many changes in government spending.

In further detail, here’s what some of the new bill entails:

  • Tax rates will increase for taxpayers with incomes higher than $450,000
  • Changes in estate taxing were averted
  • Middle class gains an extension on stimulus tax cuts
  • Capital gains taxes increase to 20% for high earners
  • Some estimates say the deal will provide bout $600 B in revenue over the next 10 years.

However, there’s been no real agreement on what should be done about government spending cuts. Obama argued that cuts wouldn’t be made if they didn’t produce enough revenue. The result: a second fiscal cliff-like dilemma that will happen over the next two months.  It’s exactly what  Congress has been bickering about over for the past year, so another battle ’til the bitter end is to be expected.

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While most of us in college thought that these tax hikes wouldn’t affect us, the new Fiscal Cliff deal may affect what federal funding we receive for school. According to the New York Times:

“The American Opportunity Tax Credit, which helps defray undergraduate college education expenses by allowing borrowers to deduct up to $2,500, has been extended for five years, through the end of 2017. The Tuition and Fees Deduction, which allows taxpayers to claim up to $4000 in tuition expenses, has also been extended. The deduction, which was set to expire at the end of 2011, will continue through the end of 2013. Some changes to the Coverdell Education Savings Accounts have been made permanent. This means that the contribution limit has been increased to $2,000 from $500 and that the account may be used for elementary and secondary school expenses. Higher income phaseouts have also been made permanent. The deal permanently repeals a five-year limit for deducting up to $2,500 via the Student Loan Interest Deduction. This means that students and families can claim on their tax forms student loan interest beyond 60 months.”

But cuts in federal aid funding and work study may be approaching. For Young Politicas out there hoping to get a degree, this may not be great news.

Unfortunately, the public does not see much resolving until one of these ‘deals’ is made. This last deal has been less than ideal for both parties. For a man who built on his trademark campaign slogans of hope and change, President Obama looks a little weak in terms of how he’s failed to change the opinions of Congress.

Media expected Obama’s second term to start full throttle, but obviously a Republican-run Congress had other ideas. His original proposal for solving the Fiscal Cliff crisis did reflect some of his ideals, but getting that plan into action was not easy. By January 1st, the Obama administration had softened up to Republican requests. Today’s Taxpayer Relief Act looks very different from what the POTUS and his administration drafted up. However, solving the crisis required agreement from both sides–not just a cave in from the Democrats. John Boehner was also heavily criticized by his own party for cutting a deal.

This bill does little to decrease the deficit and is a band-aid for the problem more than it is a stitching solution. So now, more than before, it is time to recognize that as a nation, we are still at risk of defaulting. This could mean drastic changes for the country and in our personal lives, too. Even if it does not seem like an immediate danger, the threat still needs to be dealt with in a more economically sustainable way.

The fiscal deal is not even close to where we need to be. So sit back and relax, because now it’s time to wait for the House to iron out another proposal over the next two months. The upcoming talks will—hopefully—provide a more long-term solution.

 

 

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com

The Young Politica: Five Wishes for the New Year

As we sing the last hoorahs of 2012, young politicas and politicos everywhere may feel a bit of uncertainty over where the next year is headed. We’ve seen many victories for our interests, but what will newly elected policy makers do to make sure that they earn their keep? flagfireworks

And what’s next for us?

Here are my five hopes for young people and politics in 2013.

1. For young people to go from special report to necessary demographic in national media.

It seems that the results of the November election came as a shock to the media and pollsters. We have proved that we swing elections and that we here to stay. And our age group piques the interests of many demographics.

I hope that instead of getting a special write-up in Huff Post College, we will make it to the front page.

2. For young people to remain politically active.

In the coming year, young people must remain engaged with the political process to remain relevant. Just as the media remembered us in the 2012 election, they can as soon forget about us in 2013!

3. For young people to become educated on all sides of political issues.

Is there really a need for me to tell you that politics is a multifaceted operation? By learning about what goes into the political process on a local level, one can understand the root of many issues. When one understands the motives behind an opposing candidate’s policy, it can widen perspective. Let’s not forget to learn about U.S. foreign policy and about various political systems around the world.

4. For a meaningful gun talks resolution.

We are already in the midst of these ‘talks‘. However, since the Newtown shooting incident, there has been no serious policy implementation from the White House that ensures the safety of our nation’s children from someone with deadly weapons. In the new year, I hope that there can be bipartisan agreement on this widely debated issue.

5. For a sustainable Fiscal Cliff agreement.

There’s been little improvement since the last time you heard me talk about the fiscal cliff. While there has been tug and pull on either side, neither Democrats or Republicans seem to be satisfied with compromise. However, the compromise that is upon the horizon of the new year will not satisfy everyone.

“Whatever we come up with is going to be imperfect,” Sen. Harry Reid said, according to USA Today. Maybe expecting a financially sustainable fiscal cliff plan is just wishful thinking.

In 2012, we saw meaningful change that was primarily influenced by young people. Recently, our choices have shifted policy and elected politicians.

We have proved our potential and it is time we be recognized.

 

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com

The Young Politica: Dissecting The Susan Rice Conundrum

Before the November elections, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had already forthrightly assumed responsibility for the Benghazi debacle that resulted in the death of four Americans including much-admired Ambassador Chris Stephens’

But neither her statements nor subsequent departures of State Department officials has quieted the echo chamber of blame.  The buck stops at the top, and an independent panel report  found plenty of buck to lay on Clinton’s desk. She must own and start to fix the problems of inadequate security at US embassies before she departs.

Still, it’s hard to see the trashing of Susan Rice and the subsequent GOP drumbeat about Hillary Clinton as anything other than blatantly intended to discredit her stellar performance on the world stage this past four years and to mortally wound her candidacy (previously declared unbeatable by Newt Gingrich should she make a second presidential run in 2016.

As Meagan Vazquez points out in her “Young Politica” column below about Susan Rice, the facts are never just the facts but rather come laden with political and cultural meaning.

And by the way, I’m thrilled to tell you that Maegan is going to continue her column into the new year! So if you are one of the many followers of this smart column from a student’s point of view, we’ll return to publishing it on Mondays in 2013. See you then!

After the initial boredom post-election, the political media immediately focused on the eminence of the fiscal cliff. Since those talks are still going nowhere, media sought a new subject to sink their teeth into: Susan Rice and the secretary of state bid. Rice, who was being vetted to take over Hilary Clinton’s role as Secretary of State, has been the subject of scrutiny by some for being the ill-informed messenger to national media after the Benghazi terrorist attacks.

Rice went on five political talk shows saying that the newest information linked the Benghazi attacks to an anti-Islam video protest in Cairo. Rice was relaying the message from that day’s intelligence brief, which was the same information given to Obama that morning. By the time she was on air, however, the link had been debunked. The attacks were not linked to the events in Cairo, but rather, they were premeditated events linked to al-Qaeda.

Soon after Rice relayed the information provided to her, Senator John McCain slammed her at the Washington Ideas Forum for claims she later learned were not correct.

Complications arose after McCain said that he would join the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which  must first pass on nominations for secretary of state.

Even after Rice spoke to McCain and Linsey Graham, and admitted that her talk show statements were “partially incorrect,” Graham and McCain continued in their stance—they would not support Rice’s nomination.

In an effort to avoid any more complications, Rice withdrew her name from nomination. In a letter for the President, obtained by NBC News, Rice said:

“I didn’t want to see a confirmation process that was very prolonged, very politicized, very distracting and very disruptive because there are so many things we need to get done as a country and the first several months of a second term president’s agenda is really the opportunity to get the crucial things done.”

It seems odd that these two senators in particular would choose to attack Rice, especially since both of them have made blatantly false statements in front of a political forum. Perhaps we should remember also some of the statements by Colin Powell and Condeleeza Rice, too. The magnitude of their statements is infinitesimally greater than the slip up Susan Rice soon admitted was a mistake. Yet, their careers remain unblemished.

Maybe it was her race, maybe her gender, or maybe it was just bad timing. However, as pundit Keli Goff writes for The Root, there is some irony in seeing validity in “the man who presented Sarah Palin as presidential material labeled…a Ph.D., Rhodes scholar and former assistant secretary of state—unqualified.”

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com