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Iowa Young Democrats launch campaign against Ron Paul’s claim that student aid is a ‘failed program’

The College and Young Democrats of Iowa are striking back specifically against U.S. Rep. Ron Paul’s assertion that student financial aid is “a failed program,” and more generally against the whole of the Republican 2012 field’s proposed policies that will directly impact young people.

College & Young Democrats of Iowa President Austin Frerick holds a sign saying that he believes federal aid for education is an investment.

The group rolled out a new initiative late last week entitled, “Tell Rep. Paul what your education means to you.” They want supporters to send them videos or photos, like the one to the right, that will explain to Paul why “education is not a waste of money.”

Asked by Meet the Press host David Gregory about his exact plan for federal student aid, Paul said his plan would “eventually” eliminate it all, but the nation would “transition” into that.

“But that is your ultimate aim?” asked Gregory.

“Yes, because there’s no authority to do this. And just think of all this willingness to want to help every student get a college education. So they’re a trillion dollars in debt. We don’t have any jobs for them. The quality of education has gone down. So it’s a failed program,” Paul said.

Paul’s “Plan to Restore America” calls for cuts of $1 trillion during his first year as president as well as the elimination of five cabinet departments — energy, commerce, interior, education and housing and urban development. He would also end the Transportation Security Administration, handing security duty back to private property owners. He wants to abolish corporate subsidies, stop foreign aid, end foreign wars and return nearly all spending to levels during the Clinton administration.

“We chose to focus on Rep. Paul because his position on this issue represents a betrayal of the small but vocal following he has among college students, a constituency that has been vitally important to his moderate success in the past two presidential elections,” said William Casey Erixon, a student at Drake University and social media coordinator for the College and Young Democrats.

Although the initiative was only recently unveiled, Erixon reports that it has received a positive response.

“When you compare the position of the Republican field to the policies that President Obama announced on Wednesday, there is no question as to which side best represents the interests of young voters,” he said.

Speaking on a Denver campus last week, Obama pledged to move forward with student loan reforms. If members of Congress drag their feet, he pledged to move an executive order that would provide relief for individuals struggling with educational debt.

Although the Paul website does not have an issue area specific to education, there is one on homeschooling. In general, Paul seems poised to take government out of education.

Ron Paul believes no nation can remain free when the state has greater influence over the knowledge and values transmitted to the children than the family does.

And the truth is, no big government spending program can or will solve our nation’s education problems. …

Returning control of education to parents and teachers on the local level is the centerpiece of Ron Paul’s education agenda.

But the discussion of education — and specifically if the nation wants a president that views and values education as a future investment — isn’t only limited to Paul, Erixon noted.

“We are trying to shed light on the vast disparity between the interests and concerns of young people and the positions held by most in the Republican field,” he said.

“Paying for college is a difficult task under the best of circumstances, and the Republican field should take a cue from President Obama and start talking about ways to make it easier, not harder.”

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