u.s. senator from wisconsin ron johnson
Press Release
October 14, 2016
Media Contact
Mike Browne, Deputy Director
(608) 444-3483
Cody Oliphant

U.S. Senate Debate Prep: Student Loan Debt Crisis Edition

Russ Feingold, Sen. Ron Johnson Match-Up Is Common Sense Versus Uncommon Ignorance on Student Loan Debt Issue

MADISON, Wis. — Russ Feingold will meet incumbent U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson tonight in Green Bay for a televised debate. One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross said viewers may never again see and hear two candidates with views more dissimilar than Feingold, who supports allowing borrowers to refinance their student loans, just like you can with a mortgage and Sen. Johnson, who has a record that has earned him the moniker, “worst politician in America on student debt.”

“On the issue of student loan debt, tonight’s debate is a contrast of epic proportions,” commented Ross. “It’s common sense versus uncommon ignorance when comparing the candidates’ position on this issue that dramatically impacts the finances of nearly one million Wisconsinites and our state economy.”

Original research by One Wisconsin Institute found that student loan debt has a significant and negative effect on critical drivers of the economy like new car and home sales, as borrowers are significantly more likely to buy a used versus new car and rent versus own their home.

Wisconsin now ranks third highest in the nation for percentage of college graduates with student loan debt and there are over 800,000 borrowers with over $19 billion in federal student loan debt alone. According to figures released by the White House, approximately 515,000 of these borrowers could take advantage of the the opportunity to refinance their loans within the first year of being able to do so.

In response to the crisis of student debt and college affordability, Russ Feingold has sided with student loan borrowers calling for common sense reform to allow them to refinance their loans, just like you can with a mortgage.

Meanwhile Sen. Johnson has not only repeatedly opposed allowing borrowers to refinance their loans but has gone on to declare that too much financial aid for eligible students was the real problem, saying the federal government should not be involved in helping students with low interest loans or other means to help fund students’ higher education. Instead, Johnson promotes more for-profit colleges, like Trump University, as a solution.

The multi-millionaire Sen. Johnson has even pointed to students themselves as causes of the crises of student loan debt and college affordability, based on his experience in the mid-1970s, when his $663 tuition at the University of Minnesota was 1,700 percent lower than it is today.

Perhaps most laughable are Sen. Johnson’s ideas on educational instruction. At an appearance in Milwaukee in August he declared “If you wanna teach the Civil War across the country, are you better having tens of thousands of history teachers who kinda know the subject, or would you be better off popping in 14 hours of Ken Burns Civil War tape…”

Ross concluded, “Student loan borrowers worked hard to get an education and took on the personal responsibility to pay for it; they’ve earned a fair shot at the middle class. If there’s a discussion on this issue tonight, the nearly one million student loan borrowers and their families are going to be able to see who is on their side and who is not.”

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One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.

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