Party Platforms, Student Loans, And You

The right-wing is gathering together to repeal one of President Obama's major accomplishments that's saving taxpayers billions of dollars and helping millions of young people.

No, I'm not talking about Obamacare.Last week, extreme conservatives enshrined their opposition to another Obama accomplishment you may not have heard of -- the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA).Before SAFRA, student lending banks got a sweet deal. Normally, when these banks charge young people sky-high interest rates, it's because they have some skin in the game and need to cover their losses. But for student loans, the federal government would back any money loaned to students. Banks got to charge students a hefty interest rates completely risk-free as a very expensive middleman. President Obama's student loan bill removed the bank as a middle man and is set to save taxpayers over $60 billion during the next 10 years.Nice deal, right?Not if you represent the banks and student lenders instead of students and taxpayers. This made it into the Republican platform last week:

The federal government should not be in the business of originating student loans; however, it should serve as an insurance guarantor for the private sector as they offer loans to students. Private sector participation in student financing should be welcomed.

The platform might as well read: The government will give money to the banks, or it's socialism!President Obama's student loan bill saves billions in fees that were going to the banks, it reduces the deficit, it helps students save money on student loans, it removes predatory banks from the repayment process -- but it's clearly evil.Help us come up with a good way to explain how messed up this proposal really is. What's a good analogy to what's going on here ("Letting banks profit off of education is like...")? Submit yours by clicking here.

Prince Announces “Welcome 2 Chicago” And Collaboration With Rebuild The Dream

Prince, one of the most prolific and groundbreaking artists of our time, announces his return to Chicago, at the United Center beginning September 24th and his support of Rebuild the Dream. Rebuild the Dream, founded by Van Jones, is a mobilization of hundreds of thousands of everyday people–from seniors to students, moms, dads, brothers and sisters–who come together to build strong vibrant communities and to fix our economy from the ground up.Tickets go on sale to the public on Thursday, September 6th at 10am Central at site at the United Center, Prince and Rebuild the Dream will offer opportunities to learn about, support, and take part in rebuilding vibrant and sustainable communities. Socially-conscious businesses, tech start-ups, entrepreneurs, and other innovators will offer specific tools that individuals and communities can use to improve their economic situation in the short- as well as long-term.The collaboration is part of ongoing efforts of Rebuild the Dream to engage artists and the creative community in telling the stories of real people affected by our broken economy and lifting up new, innovative solutions to rebuild our communities and create a better and fairer economic future.“We couldn’t be more excited about partnering with a legend like Prince,” said Van Jones, Co-founder and President of Rebuild the Dream. “Our economic system is broken. Rebuild the Dream exists to unite arts and organize into a potent force to support the Dreams of Our Communities. There are few artists who have Prince’s unwavering commitment to a vision of a sustainable, fair economic future.”Rebuild the Dream is a platform for bottom-up, people-powered innovations to help fix the economy not just here in the U.S. but Globally as well. Using 21st-century digital technology, we advance highly inventive solutions that are designed to protect and expand our communities, while creating pathways to prosperity for those who are locked out of it. Our goal is to put People back to work–and pull our communities back together.The upcoming Chicago dates will mark Prince first return to the area since 2004.With Prince’s Welcome 2 America New York show, Rolling Stone said, “He had the crowd panting as soon as he hit the stage…It was unbelievably great. Do you go to a Prince show for predictable consistency? Ah, no. You go for moments of divinely inspired madness — and last night, he delivered as many of those as a fan could expect.”The New York Daily News raved, “Prince worthy of all royal accolades…The hit-friendly show had a kinetic confidence and racing pace that spoke of his singular place in pop history,” while the New York Times said “It’s easy to envision Prince as another Chuck Berry or James Brown, barnstorming for decades to come.”Originally Posted At Red Orbit through PR Newswire 

The most important thing you'll watch this week.

Hey all -- in continuing with our work to engage artists and tell stories, we wanted to share a film that's currently in the works, "American Winter." Here's an email we sent out:

You know something amazing when you see it, and there's a video that I think you should see. This is real. It's about what's actually happening in America. Please watch and share this.

Emmy award-winning filmmakers Joe and Harry Gantz are releasing a documentary called "American Winter: A Documentary About a Country In Search of Its Promise." The film focuses on the personal stories of families in Portland, OR who are feeling the immensely crushing weight of the 2008 economic collapse. Many of these families never thought they'd be in the dire situation in which they find themselves.

This video is especially poignant this week, during the Republican National Convention. You know they'll be talking about the deficit -- all numbers -- but too often that conversation ignores the pain felt by real Americans. Your neighbors. And maybe you.We've been inspired to take film very seriously because it can move people and change how they think. The pain and frustration is proof that people are not okay in America. And if you agree that it's powerful -- chip in to help them finish the film. Once it's finished, we can hold screenings of it in cities across America.It may be the most important thing you watch all week.

A very dangerous lie

Last Thursday Van asked Rebuilders across the nation to join him in rejecting the most dangerous lie in America -- that we are broke and therefore are helpless to do anything meaningful to fix our economy.We’re committed to putting an end to that lie and telling the truth - America is NOT broke, we’re being robbed!Take a look at Van’s message below and join tens of thousands of Rebuilders who have committed to reject this lie and help spread the truth.

Rebuilder,You hear it again and again. "America is broke."Whenever we ask our elected leaders to do anything, that's what they say.No scholarships for our kids? Bridges falling down and roads crumbling? No jobs program to put Americans back to work?"Well, that's too bad," they say. "We can't afford to fix anything. America is broke."This is a very dangerous lie. It freezes people into thinking there is no solution... when there is. But it gets repeated, and repeated. You start to think you're crazy -- and they are right.So that's where we need to start. Will you commit, right now, to reject this lie and help us spread the truth?Add your name now.In the coming weeks, we'll be following up with everyone who makes this commitment with opportunities to get involved and get this message out there: America is Being Robbed.Our economy today is almost as big and rich as all of Europe's COMBINED -- including economic powerhouses like Germany. Our economy today is almost twice as big as China's. (And we have only one third of the Chinese population.) No other country even comes close to our wealth.If that is so, then how come only some of us are hurting? How come big corporate profits are at an all-time high while people are out of work? Why are Wall Street banks thriving while folks are losing their homes?One reason: global corporations and big banks are hoarding so much cash, refusing to recirculate it in the form of fair taxes and good wages. Instead, they use a few of their extra bucks to buy elections and elected officials -- Paul Ryan is just the worst example, not the only one.Those politicians then try to convince us that we should all accept more misery, while their mega-donors stockpile more cash than the Pharoahs ever dreamed about having.Enough is enough.If someone tells you we're too broke to do anything positive, ask them where the money went. Ask them who got a big bonus last year. Who got a new private jet? Ask about the Bush tax giveaways for the rich. Ask about the bailouts for Wall Street. Ask about tax shelters, subsidies for polluters, Halliburton expense accounts, or the massive bill for two wars.Fighting back starts with each of us making the choice to reject the myth, and committing that we won't sit silent while today's robber barons set the terms of the debate. So say it with me:"We're not broke -- we're being robbed, and I commit to fight back!"Families aren't just "falling" out of the middle class. They're being pushed. I promise I'll be out there pushing this. But this community together has way more power than any one person.Let's stand together,Van and the rest of the Rebuild the Dream team

How Mitt Romney has handled student loan debt


Campus Progress compiled this amazing fact sheet on how Mitt Romney has handled any and all questions relating to student debt."Enjoy."

1. If you can’t afford a student loan, just borrow money from your parents.

“We’ve always encouraged young people: Take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business.” – Mitt Romney at Otterbein University in Ohio, 4/27/2012.

2. “Shop around” or join the military to make higher education more affordable. 

“The legislature in my state came together and said, ‘You know what, anyone that’s willing to serve in the National Guard, we’ll provide for tuition and fees for four years of college to make sure you get that start.’ So if you’re willing to serve, then we can be of more help. But my best advice is find a great institution of higher learning, find one that has the right price, and shop around. In America, this idea of competition, it works! [...] I want to make sure that every kid in this country that wants to go to college gets the chance to go to college. If you can’t afford it, scholarships are available, shop around for loans, make sure you go to a place that’s reasonably priced, and if you can, think about serving the country ’cause that’s a way to get all that education for free.” – Mitt Romney in Youngstown, Ohio, 3/5/2012

3. Let’s put the money from student loans back into the pockets of Wall Street.

“Now that the government’s taking over the student loan business, I think you’ll get less competition. I’d rather have more competition, with private lenders as well as government lenders,” Romney said. “The right course for America is for businesses and universities and colleges to compete, and for us to make sure that we provide loans to the extent we possibly can at an interest rate that doesn’t have the taxpayers having to subsidize people who want to go to school… I know there will be some who get up in a setting like this and give you a bunch of government money, free stuff… but  that’s not who I am.” – Mitt Romney in Toledo, Ohio, 2/29/2012Romney switched his position in late April as the student loan interest rate debate started to heat up, despite his earlier stance that government was not responsible for helping students pay back their loans.

4. Don’t go to a college you can’t afford because the government isn’t going to help you out.

“It would be popular for me to stand up and say I’m going to give you government money to pay for your college, but I’m not going to promise that,” Romney said. “Don’t just go to one that has the highest price. Go to one that has a little lower price where you can get a good education. And hopefully you’ll find that. And don’t expect the government to forgive the debt that you take on.” – Mitt Romney in Youngstown, Ohio, 3/5/2012“I think this is a land of opportunity for every single person, every single citizen of this great nation. And I want to make sure that we keep America a place of opportunity, where everyone has a fair shot. They get as much education as they can afford and with their time they’re able to get and if they have a willingness to work hard and the right values, they ought to be able to provide for their family and have a shot of realizing their dreams.” – Mitt Romney in Sterling, Virginia, 6/27/2012

5. Support the Romney-Ryan budget plan, which hacks away at education funding.

I’m very supportive of the Ryan budget plan. It’s a bold and exciting effort on his part and on the part of the Republicans and it’s very much consistent with what I put out earlier. I think it’s amazing that we have a president who three and a half years in still hasn’t put a proposal out that deals with entitlements. This president’s dealing with entitlement reform — excuse me — this budget deals with entitlement reform, tax policy, which as you know is very similar to the one that I put out and efforts to reign in excessive spending. I applaud it. It’s an excellent piece of work and very much needed.” – Mitt Romney in Chicago, 3/20/2012.It’s worth noting that the Ryan budget plan would cut $200 billion from the Pell Grant program and would negatively impact more than 1 million students. In addition, student loan rates would double.

A Sign Of The Times: New Definition For 'Underwater' Added To Dictionary

Next time you meet someone who's puzzled about the Underwater Voter phenomenon, hand them a copy of Merriam-Webster's Dictionary.Merriam-Webster added new words and definitions to their iconic dictionary last week. The sheer number of underwater homeowners and economic impact of underwater homes and the housing crisis compelled the dictionary editors to add "underwater" as a new word.It's official: the housing crisis and the currently 16 million underwater homes have left a permanent dent in our language. The word "Underwater" now has a new definition.

un·der·wa·ter adj \??n-d?r-?w?-t?r, -?wä-\: having, relating to, or being a mortgage loan for which more is owed than the property securing the loan is worth

America is being robbed!

Wow - we had such a massive response to Van’s email yesterday that it temporarily broke our donation page!Not only are folks chipping in, creative Rebuilders are replying back offering their talents and ideas to help spread this message far and wide.Right now, this whole budget conversation is bad ideas chasing worse ideas off a cliff. Check out Van's email below and help us end the madness.

Rebuilder,You've probably seen a lot of stories this week about how Mitt Romney just lost the election by choosing Paul Ryan for his running mate. I think those thoughts are dangerously misplaced. Here's why:Ryan is THE most effective weapon the other side has. He makes the argument for austerity with passion, poise and skill. He is a true believer. Vice President Biden better eat his Wheaties before the debate.If they win, they can claim a clear mandate to destroy everything that made the American Dream possible. And even if they lose, they'll shift the debate to the right so that any December ‘grand bargain’ will only cut Medicare a little instead of a lot. They'll have the whole country thinking America is "broke," when the truth is that a handful of the super-rich are bleeding us dry and cutting the net out from under the middle class.Here’s the real truth: America is NOT broke, America is Being Robbed.We can prevail. But we have to bring our A game. We need to defeat their arguments, not push watered-down alternatives. So today, we're launching a BIG campaign to get this message out there: America is Being Robbed.Americans already suspect the game is rigged against them. They're just looking for who to blame, and who has a plan to fix things. We've got a chance to break through. We need to frame the terms of the debate and win the war of ideas. If we don't, even a victory in November won't stop the worst of the 1% from tearing down the American Dream.So here's our plan. From now through the election and on into December, we will:Engage artists to change public opinion. We won't persuade people with more fact sheets and numbers. We need to organize artists and musicians to create inspiring projects that expose how Americans are being robbed every day by banks, corporations and the politicians that they own.Make it an election issue. Get candidates to go on the record on our issues by filling out the 99Elect questionnaire, and use campaigns and in-district events to show which candidates are willing to help stop the robbery (even if they need a push sometimes) -- and which ones are driving the getaway car.Expose the villains and lift up the victims. Expose the people who are dodging taxes, taking subsidies and ripping us off. We'll use advertising and public pressure, and tirelessly work the media to put the heartbreaking stories of their victims front and center.Educate and explain. The right uses complexity as a weapon of deception to hide how a handful of people are robbing America. We're going to share graphics, videos, and stories, and provide you the tools to tell this story in your community with online message trainings led by some of the best progressive communicators in the business.Are you in? We need to raise $100,000 for a multi-month campaign of this magnitude. Even $10 today will help, big time.The most eye-opening part of my job is getting to meet and talk to so many people. We talk in airports, in church basements, in coffee shops. They tell me about losing the homes they raised their kids in. Picking up groceries at the food bank they used to give to. Struggling to make rent because they were scammed into a student loan with all sorts of extra fees.Wanting to work. Begging to work. But finding no jobs because big corporations are hoarding profits instead of hiring and Washington D.C. just doesn't seem to care.Somehow, Washington has made the whole conversation about budget numbers. But it's not. It's about people who are hurting. We can never forget that. We CANNOT back down.Thanks,Van, and the rest of the Rebuild the Dream team
We're super excited to start telling this story. For more on how America is being robbed check out this video from Van's speech last year at the Rebuild the Dream event in NYC:

New Video: President Obama, fire Ed DeMarco!

Jaime Gonzalez, a retired police officer and grandfather living in Florida, was hit hard by the housing crisis and now owes more money on his home than it's worth. Watch Jaime's story and find out about one man standing in the way of help for homeowners:Help us share this video far and wide!Post it to FacebookShare it on TwitterAnd if you haven't already, please join 120,000 Rebuilders in calling on President Obama to fire Ed DeMarco today.

Even Olympic Athletes Face Foreclosure And Bankruptcy


Gabby Douglas won gold, but faced financial obstacles on her road to London.


Our Olympic athletes put everything on the line to represent the United States of America.When the country cheers on our Olympians, we can forget that they face many of the same problems as millions of Americans on their path to achieving their Olympic Dreams.Bronze Medal Gymnast Danell Leyva lost his home to foreclosure in 2010. His parents were living in Florida, the state second hardest-hit by foreclosures after the collapse of the housing bubble. The Leyva family owed over $326,000 on a home that later sold for $141,800. His step-father, a former gymnast and coach, describes how he lost half his students during the housing collapse:

"I was in a hard situation, like everybody else, three or four years ago when the housing market collapsed," he told the magazine. "We live in Miami where most people’s business is real estate, so we lost about 50 percent of our students. We looked at the students who were really good in gymnastics but whose parents were struggling now, and told them to pay us whatever they could each week: If you can pay 20 bucks, pay me 20 bucks. If you can pay 10 bucks, pay 10 bucks. And when things get better, we’ll go back to normal and you don’t have to pay me what you owe me; we’ll just start over."

Leyva isn't the only Olympian affected by Florida's housing bust. Swimming star Ryan Lochte's parents are facing foreclosure. Even America's sweetheart, gymnast Gabby Douglas, has been affected by the economic downturn. Her mother filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. Most of her debt came from a mortgage on modest home in Virginia.Millions of homeowners across the country are still suffering from the economic collapse. It isn't just a few over-leveraged homes, it's everyone -- even the Olympians we'll be cheering on tonight.

Fire DeMarco in the news!

On Thursday, we brought together unlikely allies to call for President Obama to replace Ed DeMarco, the Acting Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Check out some of the coverage in key political outlets!Politico:

On a Thursday conference call co-hosted [by] Sierra Club, United Steelworkers and the group Rebuild the Dream, DeMarco was targeted as the top impediment to mortgage and environmental reforms."One person is now standing in the way," Van Jones, Rebuild the Dream president and former White House adviser, said.
The Hill:
Beyond blocking efforts to boost the housing market, the groups contend that DeMarco is also holding back a broader recovery that could be driven by the housing relief. They contend that if homeowners are given more relief, they will be able to pump more money into the economy."This guy has got to go," said Leo Gerard, international president of the United Steelworkers. "He's bad for the economy."
Huffington Post:
"You could have the biggest stimulus program in America by getting rid of one person," Van Jones, president and co-founder of the progressive group Rebuild the Dream and former White House adviser, said Thursday. "He is single-handedly holding up tens of thousands of jobs.""This is the only issue that I can remember that Timothy Geithner and Paul Krugman both agree on," Jones added.
Also, don't miss Arianna Huffington's amazing blog post where she talks about how the Presidential candidates aren't paying attention to the housing crisis and the thousands of struggling underwater voters.