Polls: Clinton’s angle on education issues popular

Tracy Ellingson

Personal controversies and fluctuating popularity have marked the four years of President Bill Clinton’s administration. But as he hit the campaign trail for this year’s general election, Clinton found himself back in the good graces of the electorate, at times holding a 19-point lead in national polls over Republican challenger Bob Dole.
Clinton takes credit for cutting the federal budget deficit by nearly 60 percent, decreasing unemployment and fostering a healthier national economy. He also lists recent welfare reforms among his accomplishments, a position disputed by many Republicans who argue that Clinton vetoed such reforms twice.
According to polls, voters largely approve of Clinton’s positions on education issues. The discussion of higher education funding, school vouchers and school choice has entered presidential politics “to a degree unmatched in any presidential election in memory,” according to an article in the New York Times.
Clinton, who often refers to himself as the “education president,” appeals to several University students because of his education positions.
U-DFL chairwoman Sarah Clyne said she thinks students should re-elect Clinton because he supports education funding more than Dole, who has said he will eliminate the Department of Education.
Closing the federal agency, Clyne said, would have drastic effects on education funding, and that “affects students here at the University of Minnesota because we are subsidized through the government.”
“The government does pay for part of our education, whether you’re on financial aid or not,” Clyne said. “So, in essence, everyone is on financial aid.”
Fellow U-DFL member and Minnesota Student Association President Helen Phin said Clinton’s term in office has been beneficial for college students.
“If he hadn’t been in office during the ’94-95 Congress, then students would be a lot worse off,” Phin said. “Because he, along with other Democratic senators, ensured that funding for education was kept. He believes in the Department of Education, and he believes in the federal government supporting education.”
This year Clinton proposed a plan to give families or individuals with an annual income of less than $100,000 a $1,500 tax credit while paying for the first two years of a college education.
Additionally, President Clinton has proposed a $10,000 annual deduction for college or vocational education and instituted a direct loan program which allows students to borrow money directly from the government rather than the bank. The program eliminates banks as intermediaries, thereby keeping interest on the loans lower.
“I believe the clear facts of this time make it imperative that our goal must be nothing less than to make the 13th and 14th years of education as universal to all Americans as the first 12 are today,” the president told Princeton graduates during a June commencement speech.