Democrats criticize Young's votes on college loans

Herald-Times: Young or old, every Hoosier has something to lose if U.S. Rep. Todd Young takes his agenda to the U.S. Senate, local Democrats said Thursday.

In the third stop on the "Harmful for Hoosiers" tour, three Democrats highlighted what they say are the ways Young, a Republican who represents the 9th Congressional District including Monroe, Brown and Lawrence counties, has harmed college students through his votes while on Capitol Hill.

Those same Democrats said Young's record is just another reason to vote for Democrat Evan Bayh.

"The cost of college is just too high nowadays. You don't see students graduating with thousands of dollars in debt anymore. It's tens of thousands of dollars," Kegan Ferguson, a senior at Indiana University who is president of the IU College Democrats group, said during a Thursday morning news conference. "For too many of us, student loans and debt are a reality that we have to face. A whole generation of students is graduating drowning in debt and worrying about whether or not they'll have a job in time to deal with the payments anyway."

Ferguson pointed to Young's votes to cut funding through the Pell Grant program. That's a vote the congressman took in 2011 to keep the program solvent, according to a spokesman at the time.

Ferguson also pointed to his vote to double student loan interest rates.

"There are too many students across the state who have to worry about affording college and, honestly, that shouldn't be the case. But Todd Young supports measures that would only heighten the level of student debt and amount that individuals had to pay," he said.

Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton said he simply doesn't understand that mentality.

"There are always excuses for budget choices, but when we have the future of our country depending upon higher education, it seems to me a clear signal of misguided values to vote to chop, at the knees, the financial support that lets so many young people achieve their goals, pursue their skills, enhance their skills and join facilities or start new companies," Hamilton said.

The logic behind college affordability is simple, Hamilton said — it's to give Hoosiers the fair shot they want.

"The whole range of Hoosier families just want a fair deal," the mayor said. "To get that fair deal, we need college Pell Grants and financial aid that is affordable; we need jobs and job support; and we need decent senior support; and all three of those things, Congressman Young has shown a willingness to throw overboard to support some interest in Washington."

John Zody, chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party, added that Young's record, to him and other Democrats, is "out of touch with (Hoosiers') needs."

The news conference is just the latest in a series of back-and-forth blows between Young and Bayh's campaigns and their respective parties.

Since Bayh joined the Senate race in July, Republicans have hit him repeatedly on his vote for Obamacare, the more common name for the Affordable Care Act, and his decision to work for a lobbying firm after leaving the U.S. Senate at the end of 2010.