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. j mann

    Once he starts to talk again, to campaign – when he unleashes his speaking skills, his humor and his vision, he will reconvert any youth that have given up on him, if any. Given the alternative – grumpy old conservatives or slick haired flip floppers, the choice will be clear for youth. Obama will win another term. Like it or not, believe it or not. Done deal.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Reply
  2. JT in Atlanta

    The young voters overwelmingly voted for Obama. Elections have consequences. You got the president you voted for. If he is re-elected....good luck in pursuing your new reality.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Reply
  3. Tommy

    So wheeen exactly can I start holding this President accountable for a depleting economy, he's only been in office for 3+ years now and has failed on every level to save this economy thanks to creating money out of thin air for TARP bailouts and the 2 stimulus' (he wants a 3rd plus the jobs bill) which drove the national debt through the roof and is at 100%+ our GDP. Let me guess its still JUST Bush's fault right? God you Libs are stupid. And to the majority of posters on here, are your checks from the communist news network taxed or untaxed? And just to shut down your predictable comebacks, no I don't watch faux news.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Reply
    • Christopher

      You can hold him accountable right after you hold a do-nothing Congress to account and whatever is left over is his fault. And please spare me the dribble that democrats controlled the house and senate, because thats exaclty when the repukes got real creative and effective with the fillibuster and broke the Guinness record at the same time. Folks like you really need to take a pill and read a book!

      December 30, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Reply
      • grimmcreeper

        Nope. Wrong again. It was a filibuster proof senate until the lifeguard died. But that's ok. Keep making excuses for your failed messiah.

        December 30, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  4. canudunk

    I wouldn't worry about it. The Hitler youth remained pretty loyal

    December 30, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Reply
    • cg

      how clever

      December 30, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Reply
  5. Mark

    I didn't go to get my MBA because I felt the costs didn't justify the benefits. That being said, I would be in favor of student debt relief if in return I was given an MBA.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Reply
  6. Jordan

    Yeah......ive given up on America. Not Obama.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Reply
    • Christopher

      Right on point, couldn't have said it better, thank you!

      December 30, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Reply
  7. cg

    It's not easy to get enthusiastic about the lesser of two evils. But quite frankly, the GOP isn't exactly offering much of an alternative. The root of the problem is that we're not going to get any substantial improvements for the middle class in this country until we force our leaders to do some serious campaign finance reform in order to reduce the corrupting influence of all the money flowing into our political system. The way things are now, most politicians will continue to be influenced primarily by how much cash it takes to win the next election cycle.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Reply
  8. Christopher

    I just read someones post here that thinks it's blacks that got Obama elected. How is that possible when they only represent 12.5% of 300+ million people? What got Obama elected and has him revered globally is the fact that he's cool, calm, collective and intellectual. His list of accopmlishments is a far cry better than those of Congress IMHO and the youth vote, along with females, LGBT's and anyone else with half a brain both white and non-white. Comments like the one I'm commenting about, no names mentioned, show a total lack of growth, understanding or learning from this countries occupants historically bigoted ways. For the record too, Obama lost the youth vote and a lot of others during the 2010 mid-term elections, which is why we're in the quagmire we are right now. No matter who the heck we put in the WH you can best believe they won't be effective if the house and senate opposes their every action. Good luck America!

    December 30, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Reply
    • BobbyONJ

      What accomplishments?

      December 30, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Reply
      • Christopher

        The most important acomplishment IMHO was getting folks like yours panties in a knot...lmbo! Obama haters are a joke, especially when you want to replace him with Ron Paul....bwahhahahahah ( falling out of chair)!

        December 30, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  9. Aldo Amaya

    -Doubling the Dow Jones since his 5th week in office?
    -Providing you with Health Care?
    -By keeping unemployment WELL Below Conservative Messiah Reagans 10.8%, without Ronnies ELEVEN Tax Increases?
    By bringing home the Troops IMMEDIATLY after Bush's promise to keep them there through 2011 was met?
    -By REGULATING Bush's Wall Street Bal Out and returning a PROFIT?
    -By saving the Auto Industry?
    -By getting Bin Laden?
    -By forcing out Gadhafi without a full scale war?
    -By drastically slowing down the 2.4 million US Manufacturing jobs that were lost to China from 2001 to 2008?

    The repubs are right. Obama is so wrong for the supper rich. He fights for the middle class and below. He fights for the working American. He has my vote!!

    December 30, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Reply
  10. JPS

    He played all of us as fools. I voted for Obama because of his promise for change. BuTT – He stuck his nose right up the 1% rump and he will do EVEN WORSE if he gets back in. The worse president EVER.

    He is the 1%'s puppet – VOTE HIM OUT – VOTE ALL OF THEM OUT.
    And DON NOT vote for a democrat or republican – that's the way to send a real message.

    Millions of students are still stuck with enormous student loans that we have no way of repaying. EVER.
    The student loan system is nothing more than a Gestapo collection agency. Absolutely ruthless and mark my word STUDENT LOANS IS GOING TO DESTROY THIS COUNTRY.

    No one can afford to pay them back – and like the article says if the students of today can't afford to pay them back and can not file bankruptcy on them how are they going to afford to send their children to college?

    THEY WON'T because they now know that college is a COMPLETE WASTE OF TIME. I know I went and have $40.000 in student loans that keep growing and growing. They garnished my wages and my income tax returns – SO I QUIT WORKING. DROPPED OUT – No work no garnishments.

    They can't make you work – YET.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Reply
    • TiredOfULusers

      If you can't afford to take out student loans, why do you take them out in the first place?

      I made it through school with no loans and no debt. Two years at a cheap community college, military, worked while I finished my degree. Anyone who needs to run up $40k in debt to get a bachelors degree is an idiot. I know someone who racked up nearly $90k in student loans to get a $30k/yr job as a social worker (and party in Florida every year on spring break). Yeah, she'll pay those loans back in about 70 years ... or the government will raise my taxes to forgive her loan debt.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Reply
  11. Mike Alright

    I am glad only 55% of the youngish (mostly girls and women by the way) have jobs. But I will not be happy until the entire US collapses financially and the useless baby-boomer generation suffers (it's coming)....

    December 30, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Reply
  12. Handel

    They vote for the change, they got the change they voted for. Why the rest of the people which are both victims of the change and have to pay the bills of those which brought the change should care about them?

    December 30, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Reply
  13. TiredOfULusers

    I joined the military to pay for college. I worked through college, often with two jobs whenever I could find them. I majored in something that would give me a career when I graduated, and I finished school with no debt.

    I met numerous people in college who took out student loans. They always had free time and spending money, and spring break in Florida. My spring break was spent working 50 hour weeks for a tax accounting firm.

    Sure, take my taxes and give them to people who went $100k into debt to get a liberal arts degree, and soent four or five years postponing adulthood.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Reply
  14. CNILE

    Nobody in their right mind actually believes that their will be an election. Mow that the Communist overthrow of the US Government is complete, the roundups are about to begin. All of this has been PLANNED, and it's TOO LATE to stop it. It's ALL FAKE, there IS NO POTUS, hasn't been for at least a generation. These are just puppets-it's ALL A DOG AND PONY SHOW FOR THE MASSES.
    It's all about consolidation of power, in order to facilitate what the Nazis called "Liebenstraum", take the continental US intact, with the infrastructure in place.
    Black America has been incarcerated, and White America is going to be ethnically cleansed.
    Coming to a stadium near you.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  15. Laura

    Even many promises were not fulfilled, but Obama probably did the best what PACs and lobbies let him to do. I would give the President another chance just hoping he will finish his job for changes promised in 2008 without worry to satisfy his major contributors. Well, maybe it just a dream…But the alternative is much worse, they already build their campaigns on fears and threats... As The Guardian wrote today: “In plain political terms, resurgent nationalism, self-serving or downright corrupt electoral processes, and a growing emphasis on the politics of fear and envy – contrasting sharply with Barack Obama's circa 2008 politics of hope – will ensure the lack of inspired global leadership evident in 2011 carries over into the coming year.”

    December 30, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Reply
  16. BobbyONJ

    The headline is why he won't win the youth vote in '12. It was cool to vote for him in '08. It would be foolish to do so in '12.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Reply
  17. jo gregg

    Socialism fails wherever, whenever and however it is ever tried. And four more years of Obama will most certainly seal the fate of America's economy. We will have permenant unemployment rates near 9%, the real estate market will not recover and America's youth will have no idea why their lives are so much bleaker than that of their parents'.

    Note to youth: A bankrupting welfare state is why you do not have a job. And the recipients of that welfare sit mostly in drug and crime torn hellholes. Their children attend the worst schools in the country. And this is after 50 years of Democrat local control of those cities. And 13 trillion dollars of taxpayer money paid into those cities.

    You have fancy college degrees but your heads are filled with liberal nonsense. And time does not seem to be helping you to see the light.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Reply
  18. Josh Biggs

    If you voted for Obama you deserve to be unemployed and starving.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Reply
  19. CNILE

    Obama COULD have been a decent POTUS if he had been allowed to do the job. Same for Bush jr.
    The problem is the people that actually own the US Govt.
    And it's NOT the American Citizen.
    Unless we figure out a way to stop the current way things are done in DC, this train ain't gonna stop.
    Does voting do any good?- not when the game is rigged.
    It doesn't matter who wins the election, things will be the same.
    If you control both sides of the conflict, you control the outcome.
    OWS and the Tea Party are BOTH correct, when you cut away the fringe elements-Commies on one side and the Klan on the other.
    Focus on the common elements, and you have the answers to the problem.
    Follow the money trail.
    The economy was crashed in order to line the pockets of the ones that have set us up and sold us ALL out.
    They took the money so they can run.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Reply
    • Camas Mike


      December 30, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Reply
  20. Camas Mike

    The Government shouldn't do anything more! Every time they do something, it gets worse. For example, the reason college costs so much (and student loan balances are so high) is because the government facilitates lending to students. If they stopped, college costs would plummet due to lack of demand.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Reply
  21. Frank Hefferen

    The youth put this far left radical in office, I'd say they are getting what they asked for. Nearly all of Obama's agenda is anti-business & anti private growth which says a lot for the lingering unemployment disaster. When everything is done and said, "Hope" will never pay any of the bills.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Reply
  22. Leonard

    Shocking numbers! And blacks and the young are hurt most by illegal immigration. This is because they compete with illegals for unskilled or beginner positions. Illegals are effectively slaves so they get the jobs. Thank you Washington for betraying Americans in favor of Mexicans.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Reply
  23. Leonard

    So while we have a crisis in employment of blacks and they young the federal government continues to welcome illegal immigrants. Those illegals who take jobs from blacks and the young. Not that Republicans are any better. No wonder many are turning to places like http://www.stormfront.org or nsm88.org. The latter is the only group protesting illegal immigration and the effects on us. It isn't about hate, it's about survival.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Reply
    • Christopher

      So by your logic the only folks in the world are blacks and illegals, boy do you have a lot of growing up to do!

      December 30, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Reply
  24. Ron

    What HASN'T Obama lied about?

    December 30, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Reply
  25. nome

    Some of Tom's solutions will probably be proposed by those politicians who need to buy votes.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Reply
  26. bob

    You can't just forgive student loan debt. That money was packaged into bonds and sold mostly to pension funds. The money has to be repaid either by the students or the taxpayers or else pension funds across the country will collapse. Is it fair to have taxpayers who paid off their student loans or those who worked their way through college to pay off the student loan debts of those who owe money from student loans? I owe $26,000 and I am making payments every month. I don't like it but I borrowed the money and signed a contract to pay that debt. The moral of the story is to get a scholarship or work your way through college and get a useful degree that can get you a good job. Someone who borrows $150,000 to get an art or ethnic studies degree does not have the foresight and logic to belong in college.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Reply
  27. WASPy

    $6 trillion in new debt.

    2 million fewer jobs.

    The Muslim Brotherhood taking over the entire ME and north Africa.

    91 rounds of golf.

    That's his record.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Reply
  28. CAEmigrant

    But their parents and siblings and uncles voted overwhelmingly Democrat. This Christmas, their family and friends, including parents, 40%+ of whose homes are underwater(hello!), spent more than ever before on gifts. Most of these unemployed have iPhones, iPads, video games, etc. What does it take to force any sense of reality on them or their families? Unemployment of people who are over 45 who have been laid off is probably over 60% and still their families and friends buy new cars, go out to restaurants, take cruises, etc. What does it take?

    December 30, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Reply
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