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4A - Monday, March 8, 2010 The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Elle Midiigan al
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu

They are not prioritizing education. That should
be at the top of the list - on top of everything.
- University of California, Berkley freshman Yesenia Castellanos, commenting on tuition hikes
at a demonstration last week, as reported by Time magazine on Friday.

JACOB SMILOVITZ
EDITOR IN CHIEF

RACHEL VAN GILDER
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR

MATT AARONSQN
MANAGING EDITOR

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Wrongly redefined
State Senate shouldn't limit stem cell research
n November 2008, Michigan voters took socially progres-
sive action when they voted in favor of a ballot initiative that
loosened restrictions on stem cell research in the state. Since
then, the state and the University have made promising progress
in stem cell research. But those strides may soon be halted as
legislation, which would redefine a crucial component of the bal-
lot initiative, makes its way to the Senate floor. The legislation
would be detrimental to the progress of stem cell research across
the state. In order to continue to lead in this research, the state
Senate shouldn't handcuff researchers by approving legislation
that would limit stem cell research.

0

Aiding student loans

The proposed legislation would alter
the term "not suitable for implantation"
of the ballot initiative. According to a Feb.
26 article in the Daily, the current propos-
al states that embryos aren't suitable for
implementation if they have defects or dis-
eases. Under the proposed legislation, the
classification of "unsuitable" would also
apply to embryos that lack wouldn't suc-
cessfully develop.
Some critics of the proposal, like Sean
Morrison, director of the University's Cen-
ter for Stem Cell Biology Research, believe
that it could stop researchers from find-
ing- potential cures as more embryos are
discarded. He points out that this legisla-
tion might "force patients to throw away
embryos" instead of "donating them for
stem cell research." Proponents of the
legislation, like state Sen. Tom George (K-
Kalamazoo), ch'air of the Senate Health
Policy Committee, claim that the new leg-
islation would clear up the language used
.ii the ballot initiative.
Ballot initiatives are admittedly often
too vaguely worded to operate properly
and require more legislation to specify
them. But the legislation before the state
Senate operates counter to the intent of
the ballot initiative by restricting stem cell
research. This legislation would limit the
research that Michigan residents sought

to encourage when they passed the ballot
initiative, and the Senate shouldn't take
action that would directly contradict the
will of the voters. i
The new legislation would also be a dis-
service to University research. The 2008
ballot initiative allowed the University to
expand its research facilities and attract
researchers. Greater restrictions would
limit the University's ability to move these
efforts forward. The legislation before the
state Senate would damage Michigan's
efforts to lead stem cell research.
Most importantly, the legislation would
hinder stem cell research that could lead
to monumental breakthroughs in medi-
cal science. Continued developments in
stem cell research could help save lives
and find cures to detrimental diseases like
Lou Gehrig's disease, juvenile diabetes
and Parkinson's disease. The state Senate
shouldn't stall these critical advances.
The state Senate must realize the nega-
tive effects of the legislation before reach-
ing a final decision that could very well
hinder stem cell research efforts in Michi-
gan. State legislators shouldn't take any
action that would slow the progress of this
vital research that is badly needed both by
this downtrodden state and by the millions
of people whose lives this work could one
day improve.

Back in September, the Daily
reported that the U.S. House
of Representatives had passed
the Student Aid
and Fiscal Respon-
sibility Act of
2009, which would
drastically reform
the student loan
system (How a i
federal fittancial
aid overhaul could
affect 'U' students,
9/24/09). The PATRICK
bill - which is 'A E
strongly support- O'MAHEN
ed by the Obama
administration -
was intended to improve efficiency,
expand lending and Pell grant pro-
grams, which would streamline the
process of applying for financial aid
and generally ease the burdens of col-
lege students everywhere.
Naturally, it's currently bogged
down in the U.S. Senate, where legis-
lation has long gone to die. One prob-
lem is that there are 289 other House
bills waiting for consideration in the
Senate, which has been struggling to
overcome Republican filibusters on
everything from confirming presi-
dential appointments to extending
unemployment insurance. The other
problem comes from several Demo-
cratic senators representing bank-
friendly states who seem dead set on
weakening the bill's central propos-
als that would both save the federal
government money and expand stu-
dent services.
The legislation's major proposed
changes deal with the provision of
federal loans. Currently, federal stu-
dent loans work in two ways. The
more complicated one is the Federal
Family Education Loan Program,
which involves private lenders as
middlemen. The government pro-
vides private lenders with capital,
subsidizes the interest rate and then
guarantees the loan.
In return for the subsidies, which
amount to $4.5 billion annually, the
private lenders provide the added

service of... er...
(Awkward silence)
Well, actually no one is really
sure what value the banks add to the
transaction except for pocketing tax-
payer money. Writing in the online
magazine Slate in 2007, Michael
Kinsley pointed out that the govern-
ment already guarantees debt - its
own borrowing to finance the bud-
get deficit-for a considerably lower
interest rate than it does for those it
helps to subsidize under. the FFEL
program. What would make sense
theen is for the government to cut out
the msiddleman and directly loan out
its own money. After all, that $4.5
billion could fund roughly 900,000
additional Pell grants for needy col-
lege students.
Actually, the other major govern-
ment loan program, Federal Direct
Loans, already uses this mecha-
nism. The student aid legislation that
passed the House in September effec-
tively cancels the FFEL program and
makes all loans direct loans, then
allocates the projected net $80 bil-
lion in savings over the next 10 years
to expanding funding for Pell Grants
and improving community colleges.
Let's see: the feds cut out inefficient
subsidies and use the savings to pro-
vide resources poor students desper-
ately need. Who could possibly object?
The first group consists of the
usual Republican free-market blow-
hards who object to a "government
takeover" of the student loan mar-
ket. This contention is hogwash, as
the government is only taking over
the government student loan pro-
gram. No law prevents private lend-
ers from offering their own student
loans - they just wouldn't get federal
subsidies to do so. That sounds pretty
free-market to me. Besides, the gov-
ernment still will bid out for private
banks to collect and administer its
loans, so it's not like private banks are
completely getting cut out of the loop.
The other opposition group con-
sists of more familiar suspects - the
private lending agencies that make
a killing at the government feeding

trough. They couldn't stop the House
bill improving education, but now
that it's cooling its heels in the Sen-
ate, they're lobbying their states' sen-
ators ferociously totry to water down
the bill's death sentence for the FFEL
program.
Senators should
reform student
loan policies.
These firms tend to be concen-
trated in a few states with loose
banking laws, like Nebraska, where
Democratic Senator Ben Nelson -
yes, the same one who nearly stopped
health care reform - has been press-
ing on behalf of his constituents like
Nelnet, a lending agency in Lincoln,
Nebraska. Of course the Lincoln
Journal Star noted in 2007 that Nel-
net also received $278 million in sub-
sidies of highly questionable legality.
But since the firm donated heavily
to Nelson and other Nebraska polls,
that makes it okay, right? Delaware
is another state with loads of private
student lenders, like Sallie Mae. Not
surprisingly, as The Hill, a newspa-
per specializing in covering Congress
reports, the state's two Senators,
Democrats Ted Kaufman and Tom
Carper, have also been lobbying to
weaken the proposal.
So Michigan students, roughly
14,000 of you took out federal loans
last year, and about 3,400 received
Pell Grants. Maybe it's time for.you to
call your senators and remind them
who they really represent - espe-
cially if you are from Delaware or
Nebraska. Help your fellow scholars
out and get the Student Aid and Fis- I
cal Responsibility Act of 2009 passed
into law.
-Patrick O'Mahen can be
reached at pomahen@umich.edu.

a

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Nina Amilineni, Jordan Birnholtz, William Butler, Nicholas Clift, Michelle DeWitt,
Brian Flaherty, Jeremy Levy, Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee, Emily Orley, Harsha Panduranga,
Alex Schiff, Asa Smith, Brittany Smith, Robert Soave, Radhika Upadhyaya, Laura Veith
MICHIGAN VISION PARTY I
A continued vision for MVP

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor.
Letters should be fewer than 300 words and must include the writer's full name
and University affiliation. All submissions become property of the Daily.
We do not print anonymous letters. Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu.
The waiting is the hardest part

Last year, the Michigan Vision Party was
formed by a group of students upset at the direc-
tion of the Michigan Student Assembly. We
were passionate about changing MSA to make
it transparent, accountable and, moost impor-
tant, focused on students. By asking the simple
question, "What's your vision?," we were able to
return ownership of the Assembly back to the
students. This semester, that passion is back.
After a year of leading the Assembly, the Michi-
gan Vision Party has delivered on our vision.
We've provided real results and real progress for
the University community.
What are our real results? We've put on big
events for students like, "Go Blue, Beat OSU
Week," and we will be putting on a major con-
cert on campus next month. In addition, we've
done smaller events to unite the student body
and make MSA more visible. These include our
weekly MSA Mondays on the Diag (with free
bagels) and a Campus Leadership Colloquium
for studentleaders.
We've fought for students' rights. We've taken
the lead in working with the University admin-
istration to revise the Statement of Students'
Rights and Responsibilities to better protect
students and we are lobbying the state to pass a
law providing amnesty to minors who take their
intoxicated friends to the hospital. To further
protect students, we've increased awareness of
laptop,registration, nearly doubling the number
of registered laptops, and are working to give
students the right to elect fellow students to the
Department of Public Safety Oversight Commit-
tee. Most important, we have fought for more
state funding for higher education to help lower
our tuition.
We've worked to make the everyday Univer-
sity experience better. We've reformed MSA to
make it focused on students and student issues.
Last year, we heard from students that the gov-
ernment wasn't working for the students. In
response, the Michigan Vision Party led the
push to restrict MSA business so that only stu-
dent-related issues are addressed. Members of
MVP also led and are now rolling out the most
comprehensive reform to student government
in decades by way of the proposed new constitu-
tion, which will make student government more
effective. Furthermore, we worked to increased
diversity awareness on campus, improve the
campus climate for student veterans and sought
change on a host of other issues. Finally, student

organization funding increased by 18 percent
this past year, meaning that student organiza-
tions have received more money than ever to put
on the events that enhance the Michigan experi-
ence. Our guiding focus is that the student voice
be heard and that a student solution is enacted.
What's our vision for the future? We plan on
building on the progress of this year. We want to
continue putting on large campus-wide events
for students to enjoy. And with the departure of
the founder of MSA's Airbus, which transports
thousands of students to the airport each break,
we want to revamp Airbus to make sure it lasts
for future students to use.
We also needeto continue fighting for students'
rights. The fact is that the administration doesn't
take students seriously right now, and we want to
change that so student voices are always heard.
To do this, we're committed to putting quality
students at every level of the administration to
stand up for students when decisions are made.
This goes all the way upto the regent level, where
we will push a state constitutional amendment
fdr a student regent. It's a radical idea, but unless
there's a student on the Board of Regents fighting
for students, students will always lose.
Finally, our executives fully endorse and
understand the new Constitution, and, should it
pass, they'll be ready to lead a new, efficient stu-
dent government from day one.
Our vision is to make the Michigan Student
Assembly a place for students to make campus a
better place. MSA should be a forum for students
to express their visions, have their voices heard
and expect real results. To us, that's real progress.
Real Vision. Real Results. Real Progress.
MVP has made sure that our vision reflects
student concerns and that we have delivered
solutions. People may tell you that MSA doesn't
do anything, but our results show that isn't the
case. MSA has become an effective medium for
students under MVP's leadership. But there is
always more work to be done, and we look for-
ward to continuing the real progress we have
already made.,
Don't be fooled. You'll hear a lot of prom-
ises this election - that is common in politics.
We're proud to say that we have done some-
thing uncommon: actually delivered on our
promises.
This viewpoint was written by John Lin
on behalf of the Michigan Vision Party.

Jm a shameless policy dork. I
love debating the issues that
are confronting our society.
I'm fascinated by
the ideas ema-
nating from the
brightest minds
of history and ,
the world today.
I even can't resist
entering sponta-
neous arguments
with those people
on street cor- AL.EX
ners demanding
President Barack SCHIII
Obama's impeach-_
anent because - as
one passionate little fellow put it -
"global warming is politician code
for depopulating the world." And to
think of the good ole' '90's - when
the president was impeached for get-
ting blowjobs from an intern. How
silly that episode looks now! I mean
seriously, blowjobs? Lame. Obama's
gonna pull the plug on grandma!
But I have a long, complicated and
self-abusive love-hate relationship
with politics. Following politics this
past year has been a lot like watching
the 2009 Michigan football team. A
new pool of promising players comes
in (Democratic takeover of Congress
and the White House = Tate Forcier
and other talented freshmen), a few
early successes give us hope that
we can really achieve something
this year (Notre Dame = passage of
stimulus bill) and then everything
implodes and we realize nothing has
changed (ending 1-7 = liberal Mas-
sachusetts electing Republican Scott
Brown to the U.S. Senate right before
health care reform is about to be
passed).
The legislative process has ground
to a sputtering halt. Congress is
approaching Michigan Student
Assembly levels of impotency - and
that's where I draw the line. After
a few early victories for Obama,
something happened that made this
country border on ungovernable. I
think it was right around the time

that Republicans realized that a lot
of people actually believe the lies
they spread about death panels and
mandatory abortions. Obama put
everything on hold for health care
reform, and when health care reform
stopped, so did the nation.
I'm not just complaining about
partisan gridlock because I live in
some Michigan Daily idealist fanta-
syland where reform is possible with
the snap of Obama's fingers. This is
about uncertainty. Right or wrong,
Obama has plans to reform the health
care, financial and energy-related
sectors of the economy that collec-
tively make up about a third of our
gross domestic product (17.3 percent,
8.3 percent and 8.8 percent, respec-
tively) based on the 2009, 2006 and
2006 statistics (the latest data avail-
able), according to the Centers for
Medicare and Medicaid Services, a
study by Roubini Global Econom-
ics and the U.S. Energy Information
Administration respectively. That's
an undeniably revolutionary change.
But with Congress acting like a
bunch of toddlers arguing over who
took who's boo bear, the outcome of
these reforms and, by extension, the
long-term fundamental structure of
our economy remains mired in pro-
found uncertainty. This uncertainty
- not the substance of Obama's pro-
posals - is damaging any hope for
economic recovery.
America is just emerging from an
economic downturn that featured
an inflation-adjusted 34.2 percent
decline in investment spending,
according to the Bureau of Economic
Analysis. As businesses regain their
footing, they are unlikely to resume
investment of normal levels amid
such gross uncertainty.
Pfizer won't invest in a new can-
cer treatment when it doesn't know
the fate of health care reform or how
it will ultimately affect the industry.
J.P. Morgan won't even think about
giving out loans at a reasonable rate
again until they know how financial
reform will affect them, so business-
es will remain starved of the credit

they need to expand their operations
and hire more workers. Clean energy
companies won't invest in the tech-
nologies of tomorrow when they
don't know if the energy market will
continue to impose no price on pollu-
tion and greenhouse gas emission.
In short, why would anyone invest
in their future when they don't know
what the rules are goingto be?
Uncertainty is
stalling progress
from happening.
Economies thrive on invest-
ment. Any economist will tell you
that investment today yields higher
growth for tomorrow. But with leg-
islation that has the potential to
have so much impact stuck in limbo,
businesses are hesitant to invest in
new projects and entrepreneurs are
unlikely to embark on new initia-
tives - two principal sources of job
growth. In the end, whether you
agree with Obama's proposals or
not, markets care a lot more about
certainty than they do about the sub-
stance of the policies themselves.
Passing reform and alleviating the
uncertainty afflicting the financial
markets will be the best stimulus our
economy could ever receive.
Congress, get your act together
and pass the reform America voted
for when it put the Democrats in con-
trol of government. If the American
people truly don't like the ideas that
they have put forward, they will vote
the Democrats out in favor of people
that will repeal their legislation and
go in the opposite direction. That's
how democracy works when it's
functioning properly.
- Alex Schiff is an assistant
editorial page editor and can be
reached at aschiff@umich.edu.

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