The president is in trouble with young voters for good reasons. They can’t get jobs. They may be forced to buy insurance they don’t want and can’t afford. They have huge college debt. And the more sophisticated of them understand that the huge national debt is a tax waiting to be levied on them because the United States will have to eventually repay the money.
Rather than promising a bigger federal role in education, Republicans now have the chance to deliver a message that will resonate with these voters.
It goes something like this:
You did what you were supposed to. You went to school and studied hard. You took on debt (six figures of debt in some case) to get the best education you could, and you went into the world raring to get a job. But the economy under this president isn’t producing full-time jobs. You didn’t go to college to become a part-time fast-food worker; you went to school to avoid that. You have a giant bill to pay — not just the student loan you took out, but also about $50,000, your share of the national debt. Add it up: $100,000 in loans and $50,000 in future taxes. You are starting life deep in a hole thanks to the Obama presidency. What is worse, after 26 you have to buy gold- plated health insurance — not a catastrophic plan that will be cheap, but a big plan covering all sorts of things you’ll never need. What’s more, when you sign up and send your personal data to the government, there’s no guarantee it will be secure.
There is a better way to go. Start over on health care and get rid of Obamacare. That’ll make it cheaper for employers to hire you. Get rid of legislation that rescues big banks but creams small community banks that might otherwise give you a job or help you buy a house. Stop harassing businesses with unnecessary burdensome regulations that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and don’t make the workplace safer. Employers can use that savings to invest in new workers and new equipment. Change the tax laws so big corporations have an incentive to bring billions back to the United States, where they can set up new operations and hire more of you.
For health care, insurers now let you stay on your parents’ plan until you are 26; that can stay in place. We can also give you protection from a rate hike for a preexisting condition if you go from privately purchased insurance to employer-provided insurance. We can change the tax code to give you the same break on buying an individual plan that someone who gets insurance from his employer receives. And employers and insurers can go back to offering low-cost plans that fit your needs, especially if we allow you a tax-free account to pay for premiums and other uncovered expenses. And you don’t need to turn over all your personal information to the government. Instead of buying Obamacare, which you don’t want, you can buy things you do want, like a car, or pay off your debt that much quicker.
On college tuition, you guys are getting ripped off. More than gas, more than housing, more than anything, college costs have soared. We can get to the bottom of it. Are they colluding, fixing prices? And why do big universities with billions in endowments not pay taxes when they charge you a boatload for tuition? They aren’t supposed to be making money.
I’m not going to tell you a bunch of baloney about everyone going to college. If you want to, are prepared and need a job that really requires a four-year degree, then sure. But if you want a good-paying job, say, as a vet technician or a building contractor or a graphic designer, you should have other, cheaper alternatives for which you can get the same loans that Harvard students get. How about paying $15,000 for two years of school for a $70,000 job instead of $250,000 for four years of school for the privilege of being unemployed and moving back in with your parents?
Notice there was nothing about “free markets” or “the Founders.” Nothing about Republicans or Democrats. This is about a common sense, center-right agenda that does things for voters whose support the GOP needs. This is elementary, but too many Republicans fail to do it or even understand how to do it. If more Republicans would start talking like that to young voters, more of them would vote Republican. It is that simple.