Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dear Katryna, I am so sorry that you are having financial difficulty and I wanted to respond

Dear Katryna,

I am so sorry that you are having financial difficulty and I wanted to respond to your letter. You say that Republican are cutting student aid. The way I understand it is that Republican are not cutting the amount of money being spend on student aid. The Republicans are proposing to cut $100-billion from the president's budget request and included in those cuts are cuts to student aid. During this recession so many people could not find jobs that many of them  have gone back to school so there has been an increase in demand for student aid and the Democrats proposed adding $5.7 billion to the Pell Grant program to cover the shortfall in the program.

Due to unexpected demand in the wake of the Great Recession, the Pell Grant program needs a funding fix to prevent grant cuts in 2011. So, the Democrats proposed the funding fix and the Republicans are proposing a reduction from the amount of that funding fix. The costs of the Pell Grant program have been growing at a rapid rate. More is going to be spend on Pell Grants and yet each Pell Grant recipient will get less under the Republican plan. Does that make sense to you?

Republicans are proposing to trim the maximum Pell Grant by 15 percent, or $845, from the current $5,550. Katryna, are you sure you are going to lose your student aid or just have a reduction? Now, some people who would have qualified for Pell grant under the Democrat spending level will not qualify under the Republican spending level but most will simply see a reduction in the amount of student aid. I don’t know if you will lose your student aid or not of course, but don’t jump to conclusions. The funding calculation is complicated and it is means tested so some people will qualify by virtue of qualifying for other programs and others will really lose their aid, but most will only see a reduction.

Did you know that President Obama is also proposing cut to the Pell Grant program? Obama's program cuts would end supplemental Pell Grants starting in summer 2012. Since 2009, students planning to attend summer school could apply for a second Pell Grant to pay for school year-round. Obama's proposal would do away with the year-round Pell Grant. MoveOn didn't explain that to you did they? The truth is that both Republicans and Democrats are proposing to spend more on Pell grants and both would reduce the amount of Pell grants anyone person could get, but the Republicans would cut more.

I think we have to cut a lot out of the federal budget, so no, I will not be asking Senator Corker to restore Pell grants to their former level. I am asking Corker to show courage and slash federal spending.

I know that losing your Pell Grant, if you do lose it, will be a hardship on you, but you see our nation is broke. Forty cents of every dollar the government spends is borrowed money. Our government is deeply indebted to the Chinese and others and we keep borrowing money to pay our expenses. We are much like a household that keeps taking out new loans to pay the payments on previous loans. 

The national debt is $14 Trillion dollars and it continues to increase at the rate of $4.11 billion per day and each citizen's share of this debt is $45,889.90. This is not sustainable. If we do not get a handle on this runaway spending, we will all lose the American dream and America will become a third world nation. I do not want to alarm you, but we can’t keep living on borrowed money for ever. Also, another problem is that the government is just creating money out of thin air. People refer to this as “printing money” although it is not really "printed money" but it is created as if it were printed and this can lead to rapid run-away inflation. So, unless the government gets a handle on spending we could see a rapid economic decline in the United States. We could see massive poverty never seen before in this nation. Painful cuts are necessary to stop spending more money than the nation can afford.

I know MoveOn wants you to feel resentment against rich people and blames our financial problems on the wealthy by saying they are not taxes enough. The wealthiest 5% of Americans pay half all taxes and the lower 50% of income earners pay no taxes. Also, job growth is created by wealthy Americans investing money. If we tax the wealthy more, we may have less job growth because we will have less investment. Higher taxes does not necessarily mean more tax collection despite what liberals will tell you. We do not have a problem in this country because we do not tax enough but because we spend too much.

Assuming you do lose your student aid, can you not qualify for student loans? If your education is a good investment, should you not be the one making the investment?

Katryna, you open your letter saying, "I never wanted a handout." Katryna, a grant is a handout. When the government gives you money and you don't have to pay it back, that is a handout. Also, Katryna you say you earned less than $4500 last year. You can't live on that. I bet you are living in subsidized public housing, getting food stamps, medicaid and you got the earned income tax credit last year. Am I right? I bet that in reality you are getting a lot of handouts. Is that not true?

Katryna, you say "I'm going to have to choose between paying rent or buying diapers." Have you thought about using cloth diapers and washing them out. People used to do that all the time. You don't have to buy diapers. You can rinse  them out in the commode and then wash them.

Katryna, I must ask you, where is your child's father? Is he paying child support? Did you have your child out of wedlock? You say you want to provide your daughter with the opportunities that your mother couldn't give you. You say nothing about your father. Your mother was a single mom, wasn't she? Did you do a really foolish thing and get pregnant without being married? I know that many do. In fact almost 70 percent of black children are born to single mothers. The disappearance of marriage in low-income communities is the major cause of child poverty in the U.S. today. Katryna, I think you should not blame your problems on Republicans but admit that your brought your problems on yourself, by your decision to have a child out of wedlock. Nevertheless, I do feel sorry for you.

Please continue to try to get out of poverty. Try to get student loans if you can't get the Pell Grant. If you do have to give up the dream of getting a nursing degree, please do not give up the dream of getting out of poverty. There is help available. Contact United Way or a good neighborhood community center to learn about job training programs and money management programs. A lot of poverty is due to poor decision making. Enroll in a life skills course and improve your life skills. Get a full time job.  Get out of the environment of public housing which creates a mindset that keeps people in poverty. And Katryna, please teach your child not to follow in your footsteps. Teach her that being a single Mom is foolish and most of the time it is a ticket to poverty.

I wish you the best.


Dear fellow MoveOn member,

I never wanted a handout.

I just wanted to get my nursing degree and build the life I've dreamed of. I wanted to provide my daughter with the opportunities that my mother couldn't give me when I was growing up.

That's my dream, but I'm afraid my dream is about to die. 

Republicans are trying to cut the financial aid I rely on to pay my tuition. Last year, as a student, I couldn't find steady work and earned less than $4,500. If my financial aid is taken away from me, I won't be able to afford to get my nursing degree. 

Once again I'm going to have to choose between paying rent or buying diapers, between having heat or having enough food for my family to eat. Can you imagine the pain involved in making those choices?
Can you help save my dream? The Senate is on recess, and Senator Bob Corker is home in Tennessee. Can you call him in his district office in Nashville, and ask him to vote against any budget that makes cuts to education, health care, and Social Security, and puts corporations and millionaires above hardworking Americans like me?

Here's where to call:
Senator Bob Corker
Nashville office: 615-279-8125
Then, please report your call to MoveOn by clicking here:

I recently got a part-time job at Walmart and with that money, along with my student aid, I'm now able to cover all my expenses. I even had enough money to get new glasses for the first time in six years. I've struggled to get this far, but I finally feel like I'm going to be able to make a good life for myself and my daughter.

Please, don't let the Republicans take all this away from me. You see, the cuts they want to make aren't abstract. And they aren't limited to student aid, either. They're trying to cut job training, food aid to women and children, and more. Congress doesn't seem to understand the consequences to people like me all across the country if these programs are cut.

Can you call Senator Bob Corker, and ask him to vote against any budget that makes cuts to education, health care, and Social Security, and puts corporations and millionaires above hardworking Americans like me?

Thank you.
–Katryna Wade, Arkansas

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  1. Rod,

    Here's her blog link. Seems she isn't all that angry at Sen. Corker after all.

  2. I am a financial aid officer for a private college. So with regard to the Pell Program for students. The reason we have a short fall is because the Obama government in Spring 2010 enacted a 2 Pell grants in one year edict. He allowed students to receive additional Pell funding in the summer months, which allowed aid officers to take from the upcoming year to fund that. That made it look like Pell had a shortfall and we would need additional funding in subsequent years. SO the brilliance was that it caused a shortfall and the Dems knew repubs would cut that and it then made repubs look mean. The program was fine as it stood and now with the repubs it is simply returning to its pre summer 2010 status.