Have the youth given up on Obama?
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December 30th, 2011
09:03 AM ET

Have the youth given up on Obama?

Editor's Note: Brad Chase is a partner with Capitol Media Partners, a Los Angeles-based communications and public affairs consultancy.

By Brad Chase - Special to CNN

In 2008, the youth vote helped sweep Barack Obama into office.  Americans 18-29 spread the word on social media, energized fundraising and went to the polls.

In 2012, the youth vote is moving on and throwing those omnipresent “Hope” bumper stickers and t-shirts in garbage bins.

Not because of apathy.  Not because another candidate generates more enthusiasm.  Not because of his character.  Not because they think voting is pointless.  The 18-29 vote is up for grabs in 2012 because youth can’t afford cars to put bumper stickers on and those t-shirts are worn out from too many days sitting on the couch unemployed.

The sobering reality:  just 55.3 percent of Americans between 16 and 29 have jobs.  And earlier this year, Americans’ student loan debt surpassed credit card debt for the first time ever.

Rather than develop a lasting initiative to help young unemployed Americans, the President launched “Greater Together” – a campaign tool that offers community forums rather than jobs.  Rather than provide a bailout to those crushed by the burden of educational loans, his student debt relief program was pathetic – only reducing interest rates by a measly 0.5 percent.

No wonder less than half of Americans 18-29 approve of Obama.

It’s no surprise the President is ignoring millenials.  They’re too poor to donate to his campaign this election cycle.  Older Americans are 47 times richer than the young – a striking generational gap in prosperity that has widened from a 10 to 1 ratio when Ronald Reagan was running for reelection in 1984.  At the same time, Obama is ringing up donations from older voters.  In the first 10 months of 2011, he attended 58 fundraisers – twice the number President George W. Bush attended during the comparable period before his reelection.  That’s overkill when the GOP candidate is still TBD.

Millenials haven’t embraced any of the GOP candidates yet, but there’s a huge opportunity for the eventual nominee to swoop in and win over the youth vote.  They have a short memory, filled mostly with three difficult years under President Obama’s economic stewardship.  The Center for the Study of the American Electorate reports that the youth vote won’t come out strongly this time around, but there’s little doubt the voting bloc is up for grabs to the first candidate who offers up viable policies – not themes and slogans – to address their issues.

To win the youth vote in November, a Presidential candidate could start by:

Creating a limited student debt forgiveness program:  It would be impractical and foolhardy to create complete debt amnesty.  Instead, erase all federal student debt for those with more than $30,000 in federal student loan debt and cut the bill by 10 percent for those with debts under that threshold.  That still leaves students accountable – no free rides – but it eases the crushing burden on millions of millenials.  H.Res. 365 by Rep. Hansen Clark (D-MI) was a well-intentioned (albeit pie-in-the-sky) call for debt relief and it’s a good starting point for future efforts.

Controls on Predatory Lenders/ServicersMost students need their parents to co-sign loans and then take care of the bills themselves.  But private loan servicers like American Education Services (AES) have no oversight and resort to bully tactics to threaten students’ parents with credit rating ruin as little as five days after a bill comes overdue for the first time.  Not even credit card companies are that ruthless.  There’s nothing more humiliating and stressful to students or parents than getting harassed for short-term delinquencies.  There’s no need for a Credit Protection Financial Bureau, just more oversight on predators like AES.

Allowing Student Loan Discharge in Bankruptcy:  In 2005, bankruptcy law changed to specifically exclude private student loans from being discharged in bankruptcy proceedings.  Young adults don’t want the headache or stigma of going bankrupt, but sheltering private lenders at the expense of recent graduates is wrong.  H.R. 2028 will restore pre-2005 terms – support for the bill would be huge in generating millennial votes.

The ancillary benefit of student debt relief is a stimulus to the economy.  Older Americans might say that giving money back to the young is an invitation to run up debt again, but millenials have watched their parents get underwater with mortgages and credit cards – it’s the pot calling the kettle black to deny young adults their own bailout.  The stimulus will come in the form of solid and responsible purchases:  a first couch, a first bed, a first set of dinner plates.  This isn’t reckless spending, it’s the type of economic stimulus that Obama’s much-touted stimulus should have been.

Without the youth vote in 2008, the President would have lost North Carolina and Indiana – a 26 delegate swing equal to nearly 10 percent of the 270 electoral college votes needed to win.  The 2012 election promises to be closer and the swing of the youth vote could be enough to tip the balance.  It’s time the President did some soul searching on his feelings toward the youth vote.  And he better do it soon, because the GOP candidate is waiting in the wings and won’t hesitate to take the youth vote.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Brad Chase.

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Topics: 2012 Election • President Obama • Youth

soundoff (996 Responses)
  1. Pat

    I wonder who the banks will be supporing in this new election? Obama is not as popular. The Republicans are running a circus in Iowa. Can we not find an honest American who values family and country before big business profts ad banks suppored by the Federal Reserve? We are in for trouble during the next term. I have already lost a substantial amount from my retirement that went to the 1% to retire – like they need it. Why did we bail out the banks and big business? Funny – as soon as they could Obama took a loan from the Federal Resrve to give us a "stimulus package" that we will be paying interest on – to a private company – for many years to come. Friggin mess everywhere. So – are we going into Iran next? Just waiting for another event to happen.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Reply
  2. Butters

    Just another arrogant politician with the most power of any human being on earth .

    December 30, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Reply
  3. grimmcreeper

    It's comical reading comments blaming Fox News for Obama's failure. The numbers of young Americans without jobs are factual. Obama has been in office for more than three years. Two of those years his Democrat party controlled the House and the Senate. Instead of creating an environment that would encourage job growth Obama chose to implement policies that hinder job growth. Why is anyone's guess. But the bottom line is that Obama failed today's youth. He can attempt to spin it any way he wishes.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Reply
  4. Cali-Tex

    The answer to your question, "Have the youth given up on Obama" is yes. The sad thing about this entire situation of the youth and Obama is that they looked to him or any president int he first case. If the youth of America would develop the mentality of Ronald Reagan that Government is the problem then they will succeed. If the president wants to help the youth of America get jobs why doesn't he get out of the way. Cut taxes for those producers of society, the rich, so they can hire. Deregulate the oil exploration process. Cut the size of government across the board by getting rid of bureaucracies which would lower the "need" for deficit government spending. Many of the problems we have are because the government has tried to "help us" and ended up getting in the way and creating unnecessary cost. Just leave us alone with taxes and regulations and we will have no problem taking care of ourselves !!!

    December 30, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Reply
  5. Henry Miller

    "...erase all federal student debt for those with more than $30,000 in federal student loan debt..."

    I paid my own way through the entirety of my undergrad and grad-school years and, to be honest, don't think it right that those of us who do that should, in addition to paying our own way, be taxed to pay for other people as well.

    What I can suggest, however, might be a program that encourages businesses to pay off the education loans of new-hires, perhaps by allowing the businesses to deduct the cost of those pay-offs as a business expense. After all, it's the businesses who benefit most from better-educated new-hires.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Reply
    • crazy daisy

      I am sick of paying for other people's poor choices. It is thievery to take something of value (a house, an education, whatever) and then refuse to pay for it as you promised. While A home can be foreclosed and a car repossessed you will benefit from that education for the rest of your life, so pay for it! I don't care if you were stupid to get in the hole, in a free society we pay for our own stupidity. I should not be required to pay for anyone else.

      December 31, 2011 at 8:14 am | Reply
  6. Ron

    That's the CHANGE that Obama promised!

    Only foolish people voted for Hope and Change. How foolish you may ask? You didn't even ask if it would be change for the better, or even "what kind of change"???

    Shame on the sheeple so ignorant as to be easily fooled by the leftist mainstream media.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Reply
  7. Tonyl

    Obama can only do what is possible with the GOP congress constraints that block every move he makes. You are fools to believe that it gets better for young people with a right wing GOP president like Bush or Romney. As long as big corporations and wall street control the congress, nothing will change overnight. It's a hard slough to keep fighting the big money and special interests controlling the corrupt congress.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Reply
    • me138

      obama loves wall street.

      December 30, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Reply
    • grimmcreeper

      Sorry, that's a sad excuse about the Prez's poor performance. Democrats controlled both Houses his first two years in office. He had carte blanche to pass any legislation he approved. In other words, he and his party single-handedly failed America's youth.

      December 30, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Reply
      • Christopher

        That's right, I forgot all about that two year period of having Carte Blanche, right about the time that the left over repukes broke the world record for fillibusters. You're so right, I forgot all about that, yep it's Obamas fault. NOT, it's actually the dumda$$ voters that skipped out on the 2010 midterms fault IMHO!

        December 30, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  8. John W.

    I'm pretty sure the students who picked productive majors and tried are doing quite well. The truth is, college has become less of a place to learn marketable skills and get ahead in the workforce and more of a time of "self discovery," albeit an expensive form of self discovery. Additionally, the public is subsidizing this self discovery and providing student aid, regardless of academic performance and quality of major, and instead basing aid on household income. Consequently, this is driving students, who probably aren't prepared for college, into realativy easy majors at virtually no cost.
    Some painful facts, there are fewer computer science majors graduating today than 30 years ago, more fine arts majors than science/engineering/math/and tech combined, and more psychology majors graduting per year than there are total psychology jobs in the US.
    No, don't give students amesty. Change the rules. Subsidize productive majors and high quality students, and create higher relative costs for unproductive ones. The end.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Reply
  9. agnostrick

    Amused at the new liberal Obama defense:

    Criticize anything about O and face this massively intelligent retort: "Been getting your information from Faux news, I see."

    Fox is now the defense to all of Obama's failings – None of them are really true – they're just all creations of Faux News.

    So silly.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Reply
  10. RichM

    Yes, the young are abandoning Obama and throwing their weight behind the Gingrinch who stole Xmas.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Reply
  11. mytchyb

    Why wouldn't the youth of America give up on President O-blah-blah? He has kept NO campaign promises, done absolutely nothing beneficial for the environment, made this country more dependent on foreign crude oil sources instead of developing our own resorces in Alaska and sold our offshore oil field lease to foreign countries, give our future generations a $1 trillion plus budget deficit, a continuing sinking stock market, ruined our economic infra-structure by increasing our outsourcing of goods and services overseas instead of raising import duties on these American corporations that would benefit their bottomline by producing inferior products in China, etc, etc. President O-blah-blah will go down in history as not only one of the worst Presidents in our history but more importantly one of the most disappointing because he ran on a platform of change and has only changed our country for the worse. DO NOT RE-ELECT HIM!!!!!!

    December 30, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Reply
  12. me138

    voting is nothing more than public master bation.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Reply
  13. agnostrick

    I envy Obama: he seems to be the only person in the country whose performance is incapable of being measured. He can promise whatever he wants and if it doesn't come true (example 8% unemployment), no worries, it's somebody else's fault.

    What a cool job.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Reply
  14. mb2010a

    And after all this Republican propaganda and lies, I will still be voting for Obama and the Dems will end up controlling both houses of congress...stick that in your pipe and smoke it, GOP...

    December 30, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Reply
  15. agnostrick

    Oh, and Tonyl, Obama had the Congress to himself for 2 years and things GOT WORSE>

    How can we expect someone to fix the economy (i.e. help businesses get going again) who DOESN'T LIKE BUSINESS!!!

    So silly.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Reply
  16. jack

    I've told every young person I know that Obamas a liar and it's finally sinking in.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Reply
  17. Maude

    If you catch fish you make pork floss soup and then jello. Making sure u arrive at the airport just in time to see a plane taking off or landing if you prefer. Going to school and attending grade 6 should be optional whilst grade 7 should be mandatory but you make sure you eat the fish you catch. Pork floss shaped in the form of ham buttocks may help as well . This is my advise as a CANIDATE FOR GOP leadership.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Reply
  18. augustghost

    I've given up on congress...and anything that calls themselves a republican

    December 30, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Reply
  19. jamesdoesdemocrats

    TRUE FACTS............check them for yourselves.....

    The day the Democrats took over was NOT January 22nd 2009; it was actually January 3rd 2007, the day the Democrats took over the House of Representatives and the Senate, at the very start of the 110th Congress.

    The Democratic Party controlled a majority in both chambers for the first time since the end of the 103rd Congress in 1995.

    Whoever is listening to THOSE propagating the fallacy that everything is "Bush's Fault", think about these facts:

    January 3rd, 2007, the day the Democrats took over the Senate and the Congress:
    The DOW Jones closed at 12,621.77
    The GDP for the previous quarter was 3.5%
    The Unemployment rate was 4.6%
    George Bush's Economic policies SET A RECORD of 52 STRAIGHT MONTHS of JOB CREATION!

    Remember that day...
    January 3rd, 2007 was the day that Barney Frank took over the House Financial Services Committee and Chris Dodd took over the Senate Banking Committee.
    The economic meltdown that happened 15 months later was in what part of the economy?

    THANK YOU DEMOCRATS (especially Barney) for taking us from 13,000 DOW, 3.5 GDP and 4.6% Unemployment...to this CRISIS by (among MANY other things) dumping 5-6 TRILLION Dollars of toxic loans on the economy from YOUR Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac FIASCOES!

    (BTW: Bush asked Congress 17 times to stop Fannie & Freddie – starting in 2001 because it was financially risky for the US economy). Barney blocked it and called it a "Chicken Little Philosophy" (and the sky did fall!)

    And who took the THIRD highest pay-off from Fannie Mae AND Freddie Mac? OBAMA

    And who fought against reform of Fannie and Freddie?
    OBAMA and the Democrat Congress, especially BARNEY!!!!

    So when someone tries to blame Bush...

    Bush may have been in the car but the Democrats were in charge of the gas pedal and steering wheel they were driving the economy into the ditch.

    Budgets do not come from the White House. They come from Congress and the party that controlled Congress since January 2007 is the Democratic Party.

    Furthermore, the Democrats controlled the budget process for 2008 & 2009 as well as 2010 & 2011.

    In that first year, they had to contend with George Bush, which caused them to compromise on spending, when Bush somewhat belatedly got tough on spending increases.

    For 2009 though, Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid bypassed George Bush entirely, passing continuing resolutions to keep government running until Barack Obama could take office. At that time, they passed a massive omnibus spending bill to complete the 2009 budget.

    And where was Barack Obama during this time? He was a member of that very Congress that passed all of these massive spending bills, and he signed the omnibus bill as President to complete 2009. Let's remember what the deficits looked like during that period:

    If the Democrats inherited any deficit, it was the 2007 deficit, the last of the Republican budgets. That deficit was the lowest in five years, and the fourth straight decline in deficit spending. After that, Democrats in Congress took control of spending, and that includes Barack Obama, who voted for the budgets.

    If Obama inherited anything, he inherited it from himself.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Reply
    • Christopher

      Your Obama hater facts are somewhat off the mark because you left off the most important fact. Verify it if you want but from the sounds of your gripe you're already aware of it but failed to mention it, which makes your perspective moot. Here ya go, chew on this, it should keep you busy for a while.

      1) Filibusters skyrocketed under republican minority in 110th congress.

      December 30, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Reply
      • Billy V.

        Actually no, you're wrong...completely wrong. Can you please name one filibuster done in the Senate under GOP control? Which, BTW, the libs have a "filibuster-proof" majority over.
        The media spun it out to be a threat of a filibuster.
        Typical leftist, getting your facts from the MSM.

        December 31, 2011 at 8:25 am |
  20. joe

    Gave up long time ago. Obama's the used car salesman you only buy one car from.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Reply
  21. GeorgeGray

    Where's the "hope and change"?

    December 30, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Reply
  22. A. Wolf

    I don't think President Obama is ignoring the youth, but it's a losing strategy to try to appeal to donors. Campaign money raised correlates with success only because when people give you money it means those people support you enough to part with their green, not because the money gives you votes. If the latter were true, Ross Perot would have won the presidency on his own dime. Votes, not money, determine the Presidency, so you'd better appeal to the voters at large.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Reply
    • John Brown

      You must be joking, lol! $$$ not votes rule this world.

      December 30, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Reply
  23. Jeremy

    Obama sucks

    December 30, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Reply
    • American Youth

      Try to say something intelligent – FYI Obama still has my support !

      January 1, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Reply
  24. Dan

    "Instead, erase all federal student debt for those with more than $30,000 in federal student loan debt and cut the bill by 10 percent for those with debts under that threshold" – What about us who chose to go to a cheap, state college knowing what we could and could not afford?? It's a bad idea either way, but I'd rather reverse that order – erase debt for those of us you were economical about our education.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Reply
    • Dan

      "... those of us who* were economical..."

      December 30, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Reply
  25. Dori Moore

    Not so sure about President Obama losing the Youth vote but I definitely know he has lost the confidence of many teachers and educators.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Reply
    • BobbyONJ

      But don't their contracts stipulate that they vote for him?

      December 30, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  26. baabaablacksheep

    All I have to say is "Indefinite Detention Bill". Now, any and all AMERICANs can be held indefinitely without legal representation. Probably cant blame Obama for this but he did let it pass. If there was ever one law americans needed to change, this would be it.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Reply
  27. John Brown

    Obama, the visionary that settled for the status quo.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Reply
  28. craig

    Please! the youth have given up on Obama because he has not been able to give everyone handouts. Thats why all of the liberal Hollywood types are upset because He has not acheived their dream.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Reply
  29. edwardo

    The over 50 crowd is in the same position, NO Jobs, If you lose your job and are over 50, 55 for certain: your out of work permanently! never before, except with Obama. And that is white males, females and blacks!

    December 30, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Reply
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