Adrian Daily Telegram: U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg: Several policies will help grads
Nearly 2 million students graduated from college or a university last year yet, in spite of reaching a major milestone, many of these college graduates are struggling to find work that reflects their skill set. In the latest jobs report, the unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds totaled 11.9 percent — almost double the national average. Young people are tired of worrying about the economy as they realize that the best solution to their economic troubles is a good-paying job.
My colleagues and I understand that current government policies are stifling job growth and have been working hard to remove these crushing burdens and foster a healthy economy. For example, we've acted to make it easier to open a new business or expand an existing one. The Small Business Capital Access and Job Preservation Act would reduce regulatory barriers and promote greater access to capital for small businesses, while the Small Cap Liquidity Reform Act would increase investments in small companies that are looking to grow and create jobs. Both pieces of legislation passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support.
We've worked to restore the 40-hour work week to protect employees' wages and provide certainty for employers. Earlier this year, I joined with Representatives Todd Young (Ind.), Pete Olson (Texas) and Mike Kelly (Pa.) and introduced the Save American Workers Act to repeal the 30-hour definition of full-time employment created under the president's health care law. By restoring the traditional 40-hour definition, employers can increase hours and paychecks. The legislation passed in April with bipartisan support.
Another obstacle standing in the way of economic growth is our nation's out-of-control spending. House Republicans voted this year to balance our federal budget in 10 years, reduce spending by $5.1 trillion, foster a healthy economy and create jobs. In contrast, the House also considered a number of ill-advised Senate proposals that would increase taxes, spend more and grow the federal bureaucracy. One of those alternatives, President Obama's 2015 budget proposal, only mustered two votes in support. With over $17 trillion in debt, House Republicans realize that if we don't address our spending habits now, young graduates will be the ones paying off the debt in the future.
To address the rising costs of an education, Congress also passed the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act in July 2013 to reduce federal student loan interest rates by tying student loan interest rates to the market. The legislation provides certainty for federal student loan programs and is much needed step away from previous policy of letting Washington bureaucrats set the interest rates instead. It's a needed win for students, families and taxpayers.
Additionally, Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) and I introduced bipartisan legislation to help families save even more for their children's education. The Helping Families Save for Education Act will increase the amount individuals can contribute to Coverdell Education Savings Accounts to $10,000 a year from $2,000 and increase the age of eligibility from 18 to 22. Working families should have more opportunities to set aside finances for their children's education, including tuition, books and other educational expenses.
- The best strategy to help recent college graduates pay off their debt and jump-start their career is advancing policies that help them find work. Everyone deserves the opportunity to create and make a better life for themselves. I believe in not only removing these barriers for our recent graduates, but providing solutions that create a healthy economy, expand opportunity and help more people find and keep a good-paying job.
U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, represents Michigan's 7th Congressional District.
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