Column
October 31, 2016

Eric Wimberger (R-Wall Street)

People Across the Ideological Spectrum Agree That Student Loan Debt Is a Crisis and That Borrowers Should Be Able to Refinancing Their Loans Like You Can a Mortgage. Eric Wimberger Does Not.

Eric Wimberger is on the record about Wall Street. He held a one-person protest in October 2011 demanding that big corporations who nearly wrecked our economy should be able to continue to do whatever they want, hurting whoever they want in northeast Wisconsin.

Now, as he wrote in Sunday’s Green Bay Press-Gazette, he’s on the record opposing Sen. Dave Hansen’s student loan refinancing plan which would not only reduce student loan interest rates for hundreds of thousands of hardworking Wisconsinites at zero cost and liability to taxpayers, but also he wants to allow the federal government and Wall Street to continue to profiteer from the responsible student loan borrowers enduring $19 billion in debt.

Student loan debt is a crisis in Wisconsin and across the country and one that affects all generations. Last year, for interest, 155,000 seniors over the age of 60 had their social security payments garnered because of student loan debt.

At the federal level, Wall Street and the banking industry successfully got the laws changed so that every consumer protection afforded a commercial transaction were stripped away from student loans, giving Wall Street all the power. Debt has also risen here because at the same time higher education and technical college costs rose, Wisconsin Republicans slashed higher education by $1 billion, while starving financial aid. An average of 40,000 eligible students a year have been denied financial aid in Wisconsin this decade.

Eric Wimberger apparently thinks that’s all fine.

On the other hand, Sen. Hansen’s “Higher Ed, Lower Debt” bill had 50 co-authors in the state legislature this year, but was bottled up in committee because of the actions of the current Republican leadership that’s backing Wimberger.

At the core, the bill would allow the state’s nearly one million student loan borrowers the chance to refinance their loans, just like you can a mortgage or an auto loan.

Student loan borrowers took on the personal responsibility for paying their loans and they are doing it. Unfortunately, the federal government has been able to profiteer off of their hard work. In 2013, the federal government made $51 billion in profits from student loan debt interest payments — that’s $5 billion more than the country’s most profitable corporation, Exxon-Mobile, made that year.

When Sen. Hansen introduced his bill, the Green Bay Press-Gazette endorsed the plan, writing, “This bill would help those starting out after college. It would be a wise investment in the state’s future.”

People across the ideological spectrum agree that student loan debt is a crisis and that borrowers should be able to refinancing their loans like you can a mortgage.

Eric Wimberger does not. And so once again, Eric Wimberger is standing on a corner by himself, arguing against the interests of the hardworking people of northeastern Wisconsin and for Wall Street profiteering.

# # #

Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now and One Wisconsin Institute Executive Director since 2007, has served as a senior communications director and research strategist for numerous statewide campaigns and elected officials.

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