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. Texasnation

    This is an amazingly horrible statistic. Obama must go, the sooner the better. I read how so many Democrats still support Obama despite the worst record of any president in history. The Blame Bush mantra has carried him farther than I expected. The truth is Obama is completely guilty of what the economy looks like today. If Reagan could overcome Carter's terrible economy, then overcoming Bush should have been a snap. Bush's economy was very good for six years until Democrats took over Congress. Even then in 2007 unemployment was 6.0%, and Bush's highest deficit was $368 Billion where as Obama's has been $1.7 trillion each year in office. There was nothing Bush had done to make Obama spend so much money, the economy wasn't as bad as Obama says. For America to still have 9% unemployment is disasterous. Obama's attacks on private enterprise has proved, socialism is still a failure. We must have a robust private business climate for America to be growing, the government can't do it. The sad part is Obama has killed millions of good jobs just to cow tow to environmentaist and he using the EPA to crush American's buying power because of increased energy prices. The only solution to this problem is to get rid of Obama. It doesn't really matter who we elect except Ron Paul for the economy to take an immediate turn around.

    December 31, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Reply
  2. Reds Fan

    Here’s recap of Hope and Change since President Obama took office in Jan 2009. Comparing economic indicators starting in Jan 2009 to present day:
    1. Federal debt has increased by 43% from $10.6 trillion to $15 trillion.
    2. Americans living in poverty have increased by 16% from 39.8 million to 46.2 million.
    3. Total unemployment (U6) has increased by 68% from 13.7 million to 23 million.
    4. Price of gasoline has increased by 80% from $1.86/gal to $3.35/gal
    5. Americans on food stamps have increased 42% from 31.8 million to 45.2 million
    6. Home foreclosures per year have increased by 34% from 850,000 to 1,140,000
    7. Total bankruptcy filings per year have increased by 42% from 1,117,641 to 1,593,081.
    8. Median Household incomes have declined by 4%.
    9. Average selling price of new homes has declined by 10%.
    10. US dollar compared to foreign currencies has declined by 8.7%. [US dollar index of 85.9 in Jan 2009 to 78.5 in Dec 2011.]
    11. US dollar compared to gold has declined 105%. [ $855/ounce to $1750/ounce]

    January 1, 2012 at 2:14 am | Reply
  3. TonyTonyTony

    Don’t know who Brad Chase is, but an article this candid would never have been written by a CNN staff journalist/writer.

    January 1, 2012 at 9:41 am | Reply
  4. moonmac

    The Money Manipulation making Debt Slave Nation! Make kids Debt Slaves forever and live off the interest as millionaires. Kids are too dumb and irresponsible to have a beer at age 20 but we'll let them sign there lives away with $100K+ debt and to go get killed in some carpet baggers war to make us rich! I borrowed 5K in 1994. I've paid back 20K. Sallie Mae still wants 13K from me. These crooks need to die!!!

    January 1, 2012 at 11:02 am | Reply
  5. WallyG

    The drones are out in force and blaming Bush! Yet, not one mention of the deliberate polcies that Obama undertook to undermine the economy and create a dependent society specifically in the age groups that the democrat socialists in this country need to sustatin them and keep them in power. The entire Obama campaign was flimsy rhetoric based on 10 second or less sound-bytes geared towards the robot minded drones now suffering under the regime of the most incompetent, in over his head, juvenile spiteful, resentful and quite frankly thee dumbest man in America! You got the government you voted for and since 2007 when the Pelosi/Reid cabal began increasing the debt blaming Bush gets you only so far, Deal in facts not myths and your lives will improve. It is time to realize Obama is a freak of nature and should never have been nominated let alone elected. Obama IS the problem and the dems who are not running for re-election in this cycle already know the tsunami against the democrats will sweep them out of power for a quarter century! They dems may start to embrace Ron Paul who is equally as insane as Obama!

    January 1, 2012 at 11:39 am | Reply
  6. Jimmie Johnson

    President Obama is the most consistent, level headed leader in politics today. He is the leader America needs. The party of NO is the problem with Washington D.C. America needs to more forward not back to the 19th Century like McConnell, Paul and Mr. Magic Underpants Romney want us to.

    January 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Reply
  7. Conrad

    Your all supporting the same system that has divided our country, bailed out the rich, let our economy collapse, brought about the biggest national debt in our history, built the largest and most expensive government in our history that contributes to the debt, got us into wars without a declaration and brought up a generation of people that think the government should give them the lives they want and they don't have to work for it. RON PAUL 2012.

    January 1, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Reply
  8. jr thomas

    Excellent analysis...nice to see a journalist who isnt drinking the koolaid !!! Keep on printing the truth... we need more articles to counter all the mistruths coming from this Administration. ..

    January 1, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Reply
  9. David K

    The only answer is a return to protectionism. The USA – if it is going to survive – must stop the Globalist game. I have to LAUGH every time I hear some idiot spewing on about "creating jobs" and how "new technologies" are going to do this. It's a complete lie. The goal of new technology – from assembly line work to automation to paperless to the cotton gin – has ALWAYS been to ELIMINATE jobs, not create them.

    The ONLY answer is to return to manufacturing our own products. Yes, the banking and finance system needs a complete overhaul as does the taxation of any activity – from currency trading to real estate speculation – that does not require any actual work. But those kids will stay unemployed until America can find a way to compete with China – which it CAN'T – because China has 4 times our population, an overvalued currency, and is run by a government that willfully and consistently violates free trade rules with no risk of penalty. We CANNOT compete against this. Only an IDIOT would suggest that we can.

    The days of consumer bailouts of the economy are over. You cannot get blood from a turnip. This consumer debt crisis has been building for the last 40 years, and we've put off dealing with it as long as we can. I'm not really in favor of bailouts in any form, but if the MF-ing banks get a bailout it's only fair that consumers get the same. A student loan forgiveness act as suggested would probably cripple the government, but it would cripple the government for a GOOD REASON rather than just to bail out idiots. The economy is F-ed with a capital F anyway. So why not give some relief to those who contribute to our economy rather than just artificially inflate it and then skim off the top?

    January 1, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Reply
  10. International Opinion

    You guys all arguing be it dem or rep supporters you are all Americans. I'll tell you as an outsider , a person who is a Citizen of 3 countries what my view is when it comes to America. Obama got you the respect back that was lost when Bush was in power – Simple! we know the state America was in when Obama inherited it from Bush – fact is Obama has done his best and you can tell he is a man of his words unlike Bush and other republicans who are swayed by the rich . Citizen of Australia , Canada and Britain – Cheers.

    January 1, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Reply
  11. quagmire

    how many Glen Becks, and Rush Limbaughs are commeting on this articles. amazing

    January 2, 2012 at 1:26 am | Reply
  12. KAM

    America is spending trillions of dollars on wars. If American people want real change then they have to step up against wars and make this world a peaceful as it was before. American has no right to defend one country and invade the other. American has to stand up against their think tanks that make the whole nation fool by saying that they are fighting wars to make America save.
    Difference between china and America is that china has no ambition to rule the world by weapon. They are ruling the world by economy.
    If you don’t step up against real issue. No one will help. God Bless American People.

    January 2, 2012 at 3:49 am | Reply
  13. vistarian

    What is right is wrong, what is wrong is right – this is usually the case with many racists voters. I mean you reward a party that created America's worst financial debacle, squandered away a national wealth of US$15 trillion, with a Congress majority in the mide term elections!

    This is incredible and amazing, America !

    January 2, 2012 at 11:25 am | Reply
  14. greg

    I don't think the youth has given up on Obama. They just want him to fight for the issues he promised to fight for during his campaign in 2008.

    January 2, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Reply
  15. bozzeed

    how about the youth have given up on Obama because he robed their freedom? by signing the defence bill and made the US another China?

    January 2, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Reply
  16. Weirdenomics

    From what I see, the today's "Youth" have not given up on Obama whatsoever.Many people still believe in him. What I hear man talking about is how the rest of the government refuses to follow our President. The real animosity should be pointed towards Congress and why they aren't willing to budge. The President is trying by all means to do his job but the way our government is set up, how is he going to be able to do that if Congress isn't willing to let him?

    January 2, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Reply
  17. bram

    I think the question should be has Congress given up on the youth? I think the dysfunctional Congress has given up on the youth and the middle class as a whole. When you have a Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell whose top priority is to make Obama a one term president it is hard to work with senators like that. If the do nothing Congress actually does something maybe the youth will believe in Washington.

    January 2, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Reply
  18. derek

    I still believe.

    January 2, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Reply
  19. Right Bright

    Lemme see...a student applies for a loan, his parents agree to co-sign and they both sign a loan contract which clearly states both the lenders and the borrowers responsibilities. If the student doesn't repay the loan according to the agreement, then the co-signers become liable...it has been such since the dawn of time.

    Contracts are not re-negotiable. I am very tired of people borrowing money who they can not or will not repay according to the contract, and then whining to everyone in sight that have have been undeseredly dunned for the money.

    Seems our housing crisis through Freddie and Frannie has illuminated this whole problem. The beat goes on...

    Personal responsibility is an adult virtue.....grow up.

    January 2, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Reply
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