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. David Rapalyea

    Rick – You wrote: "Socialism, is evil..." I must nit pick a bit on this one. COMMUNISM is evil. Socialism is simply stupid. It doesn't LOOK stupid to the dim bulbs who believe capitalism is capable of actual alchemy. They seem to believe a goose will produce foie gras even if it is starved half to death.

    December 30, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Reply
  2. ethandy

    During the presidential campaigns leading up to October of 2008, the national conversation didn't hover much around the country's economic health, but rather, the differences in social ideologies between the two major parties. Candidate Obama campaigned on the promise that those without the means to pay for the paralyzing costs of healthcare, can now get some measure of relief – that they wouldn't have to give their life savings or their homes to receive the medical treatment needed to stay alive. It was an example of the change we all seemed to crave. His republican rival didn't want that. Candidate Obama wanted to end the pointless war in Iraq started by his predecessor. His republican rival didn't want that, either. Knowing that a successful United States can not operate in a vacuum and requires global cooperation and collaboration, candidate Obama set out to elevate the standing of America in the eyes of the world. His republican rival didn't care what the world thinks. Throughout his global tour in 2007, he was greeted by millions of welcoming listeners and revered for the message that he delivered – that the American ideals of democratic freedom, justice and fairness continue to represent the last best hope of humans on earth. Something he intended to prove by deed, not just words. His message of peace and humanitarian stewardship earned him the Nobel Peace Prize.

    (Please see next ethandy post)

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

    Then in October of 2008, the near 30-year fallacy of Reagan's supply-side economics reared its ugly head. The conversation suddenly shifted to a shocking reality unseen since the great depression... a complete collapse of the American financial system, and perhaps capitalism itself; the situation was that dire. The answer the republican administrators – backed by congress – came up with... the $800 billion TARP. Like it or not, it was necessary. We would soon learn that deregulation of financial markets created this economic crisis, the affects of which we will be feeling for years. Any president, democrat, republican or anything in between, would have been overwhelmed by the sheer gravity of the financial dog's breakfast greeting him or her at the threshold of the oval office. Whose silohuette appeared in the doorway? Barack Obama.

    The day after President Obama was elected, the Tea Party was formed; the president hadn't even taken office yet. The tea party – along with every other republican in both houses of congress – proudly announced its 10-word mission statement: make President Obama a one-term president at all costs.

    December 30, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Reply
    • ethandy

      On day one of his term, the president faced three daunting challenges: 1.) turn an abysmal economy – 30 years in the making – around fast enough to keep the country as a whole from descending into chaos, 2.) succeed at this while being hamstrung by a shameless obstructionist party who elevated the art of fillibustering to an Olympic sport and whose leaders spent all the money we didn't have on two wars, and 3.) keep his campaign promises.

      December 31, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Reply
  4. ethandy

    To the 16–20 year crowd that took the time to read this far, please understand that the country respects you and expects you to draw your own conclusions on how we got here and who's responsible. But please know this also... that President Obama DID manage to keep this country's financial system aloft. His administration stanched the hemorrhaging of private sector jobs and, in fact, has posted a net gain in jobs during the last few months. That his policies made the market climate hopeful enough to gain numbers not seen since before it's value was chopped in half during Bush's last days in office. That consumer confidence is on the rise. That Osama bin Laden has been eradicated. That his campaign promises of an end to the Iraq war, affordable healthcare for everyone, and leadership on the world stage have each become a reality. And that his administration was able to accomplish these goals in perhaps the most hostile, ruthless, and utterly irrational political climate since the Civil War.

    December 30, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Reply
  5. ethandy

    President Obama is articulate, compassionate, tough, sincere, decisive and thoughtful. He always holds this country's hardworking citizens foremost in his heart and will fight for them. You must ask yourself if there is anyone among the present field of republican presidential hopefuls who possess all these characteristics and has proven their worth by deeds, and not hollow critizisms of others.

    I am a liberal. I voted for hope and change. And I won't give up on this president.

    December 30, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Reply
    • Scott

      That's why your a complete failure in life...

      December 31, 2011 at 5:20 am | Reply
    • Kelvin

      Unfortunately, he is also clueless, inept, incompetent and quite possibly an imbecile when it comes to the economy and leadership.
      He may be all of the above as you say, including a good husband and father, but he is dangerously worthless as a President.

      December 31, 2011 at 8:08 am | Reply
    • ethandy

      These comments are not very convincing. Republicans have no solutions whatsoever. All they can do is run to the end of their chain and bark.

      December 31, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Reply
    • Freddy

      Ethandy-Go back to your Occupy tent after you finish taking a crap on the city street. Finish shooting up your heroin or smoking your meth. You drugged out libs and welfar parasites are a laughing stock. You Fuher is a miserable failure. The gestapo lib medil will not be able to hid his failures over the past 3 years.

      December 31, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Reply
  6. Kevin


    December 30, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Reply
  7. Kevin

    ethandy = typicla lib dreamer.....good luck with that....clown

    December 30, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Reply
  8. David Rapalyea

    eth – Hope and Change? Lets talk solyndra. Five hundred thousand dollars for each of one thousand workers laid off. Sounds like a job for. Well, Romney. Its kind of his specialty. Rememeber Salt Lake City Olympics No offense intended, but I don't think Bama ever ran so much as a paper route.

    Imagine Bama's Chicago crew and the Olympics. Wait! That actually DID happen! 'Bama took his 747 to Europe were his influence amounted to Chicago being eliminated in the first round.

    December 30, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Reply
  9. Nathan Forczyk

    One phrase summarizes these proposals – WOW. No mention is made on the cost of this. The fundamental problem with student loans is the lenders have no incentive to make sure the student is making an investment. They know that the gov't will back any loan to make sure they make their money, regardless of what you use the money for. I took out 50 grand in loans to get a PhD, it was worth it for me – it tripled my salary. However, those people that took out 100k+ to go out of state to study social work are idiots and I have no interest in paying higher taxes to bail them out.

    December 30, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Reply
    • David Rapalyea

      Reminds me of a girlfriend I had back in the 1980's. She had a full scholarship to one or the other of the Seven Sisters [Ivy League]. But Noooooo. Instead she took out a student loan to go to one of the other Seven Sisters. Thirty some years old, $30,000 debt for a dowry.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Reply
      • Jerry J

        I just hope you did not marry her.If you did,I bet she voted for OBAMA because your description of her is that of the
        liberal mind.One thingI have learned from reading all these posts,listening to talk shows,watching the news,and just plain living under the current Marxist Regime is that they are truly wired differently.And their vote counts as much or more than mine(electorl college).The reason we are in the mess we are in is because these people are choosing the wrong representatives in Congress and those people go to Congress and get "bought off."Even worse,they put the wrong man with no experience who is not even a citizen of the USA in the White House.He came up with a phony
        BC but why won't he disclose the details of his student scholarships etc? Is it because he was a foreign national?

        December 31, 2011 at 7:37 am |
  10. David Rapalyea

    Obama and the EPA.

    and water are now cleaner then they have been since long before the industrial revolution. But Bama increased funding by 25% if I am not mistaken. I think they are taking on the horrid amounts of farm dust. No matter American Agriculture has gone to no-till planting over the last couple of decades. But you can bet you last Solyndra Dollar EPA WILL find farm dust to regulate.

    December 30, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Reply
  11. nedm

    If you allow students to file for bankruptcy to get rid of student debt then most simply would just not work for a year or so and live with others to discharge it. Bankruptcy before the 2005 reform was a joke..just pay the $300 to a lawyer and lie and it gets solved.

    The median college debt in the country is 24K. At first that sounds like quite an amount but that's the average new car cost...and the average wedding. Last I checked we are pushing for more people to get married and passed cash for clunkers...

    Obama won the primaries because he could say he voted against the Iraq war. When he became president the economy became more of a major issue...but it is stupid (quite stupid) for him to suggest that no one knew this was going to happen...Bill Gross, Nourial Roubini, Mohammad Al-Berian, Peter Schiff and Meridith Whiney all come to mind that did call it. Obama put the bets on his whole term on the health care debate...not a bright move in retrospect.

    Obama even attacks his own base in calling police stupid and that the firing of teachers was "a good thing". There is no "bridge to the 21st century" like Clinton, there is no Great Society like LBJ, there is no square deal, equal deal new deal plan. Obama is to the youth of America what the New Monkeys was to 80's rock. It isn't a left or a right thing or a democrat/republican thing. I rather have Clinton back in the white house or even the first president Bush at this point.

    December 30, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Reply
  12. David Rapalyea

    I am trying to come up with a new, but more substantial criticism of the Administration. But its like judging a cotton candy machine at a science fair. I'm stumped....

    December 30, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Reply
  13. Hard Thought

    I see so many Socialist Liberal Progressive Democrats (SPLD) (and, yes they are ALL the same stripe) decry profits as evil while saying conservatives have no empathy for the little guy.

    There are so many examples that disprove this, but I'll mention two:
    When an SPLD tells a minority he cannot succeed without help, how does that minority person feel? That is Affirmative Action.
    When an SPLD says they will give you money if you don't marry or allow your significant other in the house, how does that build stronger families? Think Welfare.

    Do the research. Think for yourself. SPLD are poison.

    December 31, 2011 at 1:01 am | Reply
  14. Biff Clinton

    RON PAUL 2012

    December 31, 2011 at 1:11 am | Reply
  15. John Galt

    Who is John Galt?

    December 31, 2011 at 1:25 am | Reply
    • alnga

      The original John Galt was the hero in Ayn Rand's ATLAS SHRUGGED ...today he would be RON PAUL,,

      December 31, 2011 at 10:44 am | Reply
  16. Charlie

    This shows plainly the Law of Unintended Consequences. When minimum wages are raised during a recession to give young workers 'self esteem' in order to give politicians another feel good boondoggle it forces small businesses to lay off youthful employees or not hire as many as at lower wages. This is one big reason why there is such a huge unemployment rate among the young.

    December 31, 2011 at 2:09 am | Reply
    • Scott

      Partially..... but there is many more variables that just that.

      December 31, 2011 at 5:22 am | Reply
  17. Eric

    Why do people with student loans deserve bailouts at my expense? I paid mine off. It wasn't easy. Now you want ME to pay for YOURS? You're useless. No wonder you're unemployed.

    December 31, 2011 at 3:25 am | Reply
  18. Scott

    Havent embraced anyone. Gimmie a break. Ron Paul is the only one who gives a damn about us and the future of this nation, While the baby boomers and Silent Generation, got plenty of money and plenty of social benefits. All they care about is retirement and sucking from the system with their overblown pensions and jobs they will not give up. Now would this be considered class warfare or age warfare?

    December 31, 2011 at 5:18 am | Reply
  19. Scott

    If there's any one group to blame for all of this it would have to be the gutless, spineless Baby Boomer Generation. Who let things deteriorate to this point starting in the late 1960's. It will be the Gen X and Yers who clean up your mess. And the mess is systemic on a world scale.

    December 31, 2011 at 5:40 am | Reply
    • LiberalBeater

      Well said Scott. I know, I was there!

      December 31, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Reply
  20. flgjk

    What a rediculous solution to the unemployed youth problem. Your idea is to teach the young folks that they are not responsible for the debts that they contracted for. Spend like the "ignorant" that you are and than wait for a bleeding heart liberal to bail them out. My guess is that more than 50% of this indebted group were raised without a father and "literally" have never worked a day in their life because they never have seen a relative go to work each day not to mention that they never had a father to teach them how to work. Additionally, why would they want to find a job when bleeding heart liberals like you keep extending their unemployment benefits. The answer is to teach them how to work, how to show up each day, clean, sober and on time. The operative word is to "teach" them how to work and teach them how to be responsible. Lastly, if they contracted for the debt than they are responsible for paying off the debt-no bailouts ever and never. Remember the operative word, "teach".

    December 31, 2011 at 7:56 am | Reply
  21. Kelvin

    Or put another way, the Obama Unemployment Rate for 16-29 year olds is 45%.
    How's that for hope and change?

    December 31, 2011 at 8:02 am | Reply
  22. BigJay

    The article basically says Obama needs to buy votes by forgiving student loans. I say man up and pay your debts,

    December 31, 2011 at 8:35 am | Reply
    • linda

      Maybe Brad has massive debt and is looking for a hand out...

      December 31, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Reply
  23. Ron

    What HASN'T Obama lied about? Anyone???????


    Obama lied about everything.

    December 31, 2011 at 9:01 am | Reply
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