WASHINGTON- The most recent “Youth Misery Index” is at a record high because of high joblessness and student loan debt among recent college graduates — and the Obama administration hasn’t helped, according to Young America’s Foundation, an educational group promoting conservative ideas.
The foundation’s 2013 “Youth Misery Index,” which hit 98.6, is calculated annually by adding the youth unemployment rate — 16.3 percent; the average graduating student debt — $29,400, which is 29.4 points on the index; and the per capital national debt — $52,948, or 52.9 points. Last year’s index rate was 95.1.
The shared amount of student loan debt and government program debt added together would be almost as costly for an individual as a mortgage on a house, said Ashley Pratte of the YAF.
Reform is needed, Pratte said, but not with the policies set forth by the Obama administration. “I believe there should be changes, but not in a way that hurts young people.”
“The government should be taken out of the equation. Government programming is only making the economic situation worse for young people,” said Pratte.
According to a study conducted by the YAF, seven in 10 college seniors graduate with student loan debt.
But Northwestern College Democrats Vice President of Marketing Quentin Heilbronner said that the Republican Party was just using student debt as another way to criticize Obama. In fact, he said, Obama tried to lead a charge to prevent increasing interest rates.
“President Obama put forward a long-term solution that cuts rates this year on nearly all new loans, ensures that all students have access to affordable repayment options, and does not charge students higher interest rate to pay for deficit reduction. But Congress failed to take action on his proposal, and interest rates went up,” according to a July White House statement.
Obama’s Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act, which Congress passed last year, ” saved 11 million student loan borrowers an estimated $15 billion by lowering interest rates and providing much needed stability to families across the country,” according to Anne Johnson, executive director of Generation Progress.
However, Pratte said Obama’s policies, especially health care, are to blame for young people’s economic woes.
“Obama is the worst president for youth economic activity,” she said. “Government programs and wasteful government spending are hurting the youth.”
Recent YAF survey findings confirm that many young people think government today is too big, said Pratte.
“The government cannot handle heath care,” said Pratte. “The Affordable Care Act is not very affordable for young people. Many healthy young people would rather pay a penalty than pay a high premium they cannot afford.”
Jamil Hamilton, vice president of the D.C. Federation of College Democrats, disagreed. Most young Democrats are willing to pay the premium, said Hamilon
“Voters under 29 are the ones who put Obama in office in 2008 and if you look at the voting record there was support for the ACA when we helped re-elect Obama in 2012,” said Hamilton
Obama received significantly more votes from young people than his opponents in both presidential elections. However, according to a Pew Research Study of the 2012 election, youth voters were significantly less engaged in that election compared with 2008. Only 18 percent of voters under 30 said they were following the election closely, compared with 38 percent of young voters in 2012.