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. Vera Waitress

    The only people who dislike Obama belong to the the military industrial complex because it's being shut down. Wars? Over. Price tag? $600 Billion per year . Look on the faces of war company employees as they receive their pink slips? Priceless.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Reply
  2. CitizenJP

    There is simply no better choice than President Obama, period. If anything the youth should be more energized for Obama than before. There is no president in recent history who has accomplished more on the campaign promises that this President. He is to be credited with the biggest economic turn around since Great Depression. If the Republican Congress did not block his every move to better the economy, we would be doing even better today. Hopefully, the youth of this country will take it upon themselves to change the Congress.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Reply
  3. Mr. Turner

    I bought the bumper sticker, the '08 t-shirt, and gave donations for the hope of a new honest president. Young and naive to the corruption of politics, i found a small hope in Obama. Yet he is no better than Bush and his term right now is yet another band-aid to the Reaganomics and plutocrats. I feel foolish having thought legitimate change could have possibly arrived. I only got deeper in debt, more of our human right voice has been taken away, and we are all terrorists in the battle against a human emotion. Congratulations Mr. President, you make me feel terrible about the future.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Reply
  4. John

    I was a strong Obama supporter and was dissapointed with the policies he was UNABLE to introduce. The conservatives have been unhelpful and really strangled his attemps. I think he should have fought harder for what he promised but the alternative(s) is far worse. We cannot go back to the conservative approach, we have suffered enough. The economy is improving SLOWLY and will get better over the next few years. Obama really stepped into a pile when he took office and it will simply take more time to fix the Bush/Chenney mess. Obama 2012........

    December 30, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Reply
  5. Eric of Reseda

    Well, FACTUALLY, the economy IS getting better under Obama. And he isn't the one that ruined it. FACTUALLY, Bush & Co. took a balanced budget and prosperity – courtesy of Clinton – and messed it all up.

    The choice is Obama and soem continued digging out of the hole the GOP put us in (Same script leading up tot he Great Depression, that is, GOP leadership is DEATH to our economy), or vote Republican and go die in a war being fought to further the agenda of Big Oil and the military-industrial complex (The one former Supreme Allied Commander and President of the U.S., Gen. Eisenhower, warned us about). The choice is EASY.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Reply
  6. JB

    Reagan increased deficit by $3 Trillion + GWB increased $7 Trillion & left $1.2 Trillion yearlt deficits – GOP LOSERS – GOP spent AMERICA DEBT

    December 30, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Reply
  7. Samuel

    The GOP refuses to invest in our youth, teachers, the country interstates and etc.....
    Obama has attempted to invest, but the Congress will not. It is all about cuts ! We never throught of cuts during the WARS and billions spent. I did vote Rup and both Bush. Not now....I refuse to return to the Olde Boys screws this country at war and falling behind. Answer this. The GOP was in office for 8 years, with the currnt tax cuts, and companies going oversea, down sizing. And now the GOP is blaming Obama for this mess and not attempting to put the USA first. No they would rather do anything to run him out of office. This was stated the first day he was elected to office.

    No..not me....Not returning to letting some old boys push us into war and not investing in our country and youth. I am sure Obama will out perform them all.

    And this is from a retired servicememeber of 30 years and Republican.

    And, Ron Paul ! Drugs, racist, no federal taxes, Iran should have nukes ! The youth support this man. My point ! The youth of America has fallen behind the rest of the world, cant compete, because we have not invested in them. Ron Paul......a joke. And if you are actaully drinking that kool aid, you need to perform more research on him. But, this is America and you have right to support drugs use, a racist and a man who just wants America to hide our head in the sand. Vote to make America strong. Not because Obama is different from you.

    USA should come before everything esle....this is how I am going to vote.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Reply
    • karrie

      its not that the GOP do not want to invest in education etc. its that people are getting frustrated with the mad spending of the current administration. take soyndra for instance...think of the billions that went to solyndra...why was that money not allocated to education? think of the money given to states for a high speed train. a train people! why not allocate that money toward schools, social services. these are a couple examples of reckless spending. these are a couple examples of why a majority of americans voted in republicans to take the majority. this is why the forefathers wanted checks and balances. wake up peeps!

      December 30, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Reply
  8. Alex

    All he had was the youth and minorities...while the repugs certainly don't (and still don't) have any superior candidates, Obama should at best be called Student Body King versus POTUS. He will make for an appropriate 'Idol' judge after his presidency is over...

    December 30, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Reply
  9. Harry From Pa

    I'm considered part of the Youth, and I haven't given up on Obama. Obama has been trying and you got individuals that are doing whatever it takes to get him out. This isn't his fault and we the younger generation see this, and we are tired of it. The young people will rise up in 2012 and will be excited to vote again for Obama and vote against those that stand in the way of making the middle class better.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Reply
  10. Tired

    Hear we go again...more promises. He has had his chance, lets get rid of him before this country goes all the way down the tubes!!

    December 30, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Reply
  11. reader10

    He will be go in history as the lease qualified and clueless president of the US.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Reply
  12. McBob79

    So are the same morons who elected Mr. Obama going to double down on his policies? Let's hope not!

    December 30, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Reply
  13. NudeTruth

    I like how obama's podium is even calling for a "Change" in Presidencies.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Reply
  14. john G

    if he had a chance! with all the bigots in congress who made clear from day one that no non white person shall ever suceed in office ,at least he had the balls to say pull the triger at Osama,I will look back and say he will get my vote

    December 30, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Reply
    • NudeTruth

      The race card? You going to beat that dead horse again? lol

      December 30, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Reply
  15. Vera Waitress

    People who complain about the lack of change under Obama don't get it. It's like making a quarterback wear 200-lb sandbags, or putting grease on a mountain cilmber's shoes– that's what the deficit and wars were to Obama. Huge obstacles that he overcame. It's not like Obama had a nice fresh start, people. Those who make no mention of the hole he had to climb out of are CLEARLY biased.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Reply
  16. Dan, TX

    Meanwhile, Obama has cut spending dramatically and the Budget Control Act of 2011 that Obama signed cuts government spending by more than it increases the debt limit. In addition, Obama did this without raising taxes at all, in fact, thus far, he has cut taxes significantly for all Americans. In addition, there are more than $21 billion in spending cuts next year alone, and the he continues to reduce the deficit in the years ahead (by $42 billion in 2013, $59 billion in 2014, $75 billion in 2015, $87 billion in 2016, and so on. Thus, Obama has been a fiscal conservative while doing what every economist has agreed is needed during this terrible recession – stimulate the weak demand in the economy by government spending now in exchange for reduced government spending in the future. Obama has been fiscally the best president we've had since Clinton.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Reply
    • teatsucker

      Obama cut spending? What kind of moron are you Dan?

      $ 1.3 trillion was just added to the deficit.

      The crap you hear on MSLSD or Puffington Host belongs in the toilet.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Reply
    • Dan, TX

      That information on the spending cuts is from John Boehner's web site. This is the republican party's data, not liberals.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Reply
  17. teatsucker

    So I get to spend 150K on a private education and only have to pay 30k back?


    December 30, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Reply
    • Justin, Atlanta

      You are truly retarded.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Reply
  18. JDW

    George Bush – President 2006 – Unemployment rate 4.6%
    2007 – Democrats take the House and Senate – Unemployment rate 4.6%
    2008 – Democrats still with house and senate – Unemployment rate 5.8%
    2009 – Democrats with House, Senate, President – Unemployment rate – 9.3%
    2010 – Democrats with House, Senate, President – Unemployment rate – 9.8%

    But thank goodness Democrats had nothing to do with job killing measures like hyper-regulation and the minimum wage hike (job killer – for every wage increase jobs are eliminated – sorry, but that's business), or that their hands are completely clean in the Freddie and Fannie housing debacle (for the record, Barney had his Frank in Freddie's Fannie very early on). No, no, – take a country in 2006 with an unemployment rate of 4.6%, take control of the house and senate, DOUBLE the unemployment rate in the four years you hold 2/3rds the power, and still manage to blame a man who, everyone agrees, was a feckless President in Bush. http://www.bls.gov/cps/prev_yrs.htm

    December 30, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Reply
  19. Scott G

    I can't speak personally for the youth of America – I'm a young 51, but I can state what I hear and see from younger people at my work and in my personal life.
    I believe the youth of our country more than any other age group distrust our government. They see a government that is fiscally and morally irresponsible. They see politicians who are not true servants of the people, but are self serving. They see a government that has over-extended it's usefulness and is terribly inefficient. They see a government that has sent 10s of thousands of young americans overseas to fight in undeclared foreign wars.
    My sense is that young people are fiercely independent because they have seen the destruction and want government to take a minimal role in our lives.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Reply
  20. salahuddin

    Two must reads of 2011. Theruggedgent(dot)com, a website put together by a bunch of expat madmen and Along the Naktong a novel by Joshua Lorenzo Newett about the existential crisis in which the post modern individual finds themselves.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Reply
  21. Kwanzaa Flash Mob Assault

    President hip hop didn't even give black kid's any money. Strange, considering he and mypeople holder initiated the FIRST FEDERALLY SANCTIONED RACE WAR in American history. I guess black people will have to vote for Newt !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 30, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Reply
  22. marc2724

    someone please tell me what obama has done to improve the quality of life for americans. now dont say gas went down, retirees go a raise and the troops came home from iraq, those are all political ploys to get votes in 2012. hopefully the american public will not fall for it.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  23. judyt8550

    Again, the statistics are garbage. MOST 16-18 do not have jobs, they are in school. A good percentage of 19-21 don't have jobs, they are in college. The more meaningful number would be 19-26 non students. How many of these do not have jobs. Bet the number is much lower.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Reply
  24. Cynthia C.

    I was a youth last time around but now I am 30 and will still vote for Obama. I guess I'll have to reach out to the youth and hope they pull through.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Reply
    • JDW

      26 years old and you considered yourself a "youth"? That seems rather indicative of our problem right there.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Reply
    • judyt8550

      And all the left want to spout untruths about the intelligence of the right. Ha

      December 30, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Reply
    • UhOh

      Keep on buying into that Victim mentality

      December 30, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Reply
    • Sirock

      Cynthia your a slow learner aren't you

      December 31, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Reply
  25. Coriolana

    Was this article about anything at all? Clearly, it's not about 'youth'.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Reply
  26. willown

    The millenials should be every bit as disappointed in Obama as anyone else, but that disappointment shouldn't translate into forgiveness of their debts. Really? Because they're disappointed?! Who isn't? And the recommendations listed in this article are ridiculous...full forgiveness if your student loan is over $30,000, but only a 10% reduction if you were frugal enough to only incur debt under $30,000? So we should be encouraging our young people to live on the income of others and to not pay as they go? This is what we want them to learn? And we should include student loans in bankruptcy...same thing...it is a legal way to steal from someone. Debts unpaid due to bankruptcies online have a domino effect on the next and the next person/business that goes unpaid because of it. The impact doesn't just let the person in bankruptcy "off-the-hook", it means the people the money was owed to now have to assume the debt, creating an ever larger ripple effect. Not good ideas, whether we are talking about Obama or anyone else.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Reply
  27. Dan

    Brad, you are dumb. Obama has already created debt amnesty programs (or they already existed). You don't have to pay more than 10% of your salary towards your student loan debt, and once you make payments for a certain amount of time, you get forgiveness. He already got rid of the loan service middlemen as part of the health care reform bill. They are all handled by the Dept of Education now, for massive savings over time.
    And yes, there needs to be more oversight of private loans and for profit corporations profiteering off of these loans.
    But it's because of misinformed and ignorant journalists such as yourself that people have such a skewed view of what the President has accomplished.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Reply
  28. Justin, Atlanta

    Millenials need more than just student loan relief. We need an industrial economy that once again provides good jobs and upward mobility. The "information economy" will never create good jobs. Only by bringing manufacturing and inustry back to this county will things actually improve for my generation. Right now, nobody is talking about that...except maybe Pat Buchanon.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Reply
    • karrie

      wah, wah,wah...i can't pay my loans! millennial's need to realize that we all have had student loans. it takes time to pay them off. it takes time to build your career. i suggest that people pick a school they can afford. i went to a junior college and worked full time. i worked full time (waiting on tables, coffee shops, the mall, cleaning houses)when i transferred to a four year college. i moved all over the USA in order to find job opportunities. my husband joined the military to pay for princeton. there are options. be smart and choose the options you can afford.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Reply
  29. somewhereinus

    This is just horrible. The young people need these jobs. Basically, its impoverishing the youth to a point that it has the potential to set back an entire generation in regard to self sufficiency. Disgusting! The crime rate will soar, because people have to eat and have shelter. Just what does Obama expect the youth to do... sign up for another war in Iran or Syria? Gee, thanks a lot Obama :[

    December 30, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Reply
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