MASON CITY — Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke has been in Iowa the last few days holding town hall meetings, including late Wednesday morning in Mason City.
O’Rourke is calling for letting Americans refinance their student loans “at much lower rates.” “We have a 10 percent default rate. Let’s get that default rate down to zero by making sure that your payments are affordable,” O’Rourke says. “Something is better than nothing and right now we are getting nothing from far too many of those who took out those loans.”
O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman, supported President Obama’s “College Promise” proposal that would have made community college tuition free for students who kept their grades up and made steady progress toward completing their two-year degree. He supports erasing student loan debt for college graduates who work in certain occupations. “If you’re willing to work at the VA in one of those unfilled positions, let’s wipe clean in total the debt that you owe so that you can focus on taking care of those who stood up for us,” O’Rourke said. “If you’re willing to teach or become a public school educator in an underserved community, come back to your hometown, perhaps – a decision you could not afford if you had to pay back all those student loan debts, let’s wipe those debts clean.”
He emphasized not only the importance of training beyond high school, but of universal preschool. “Starting that education not at four or five, but at three or four, we move the starting line back so everybody has an even chance at success in their lives,” O’Rourke says.
O’Rourke stopped in Charles City on Tuesday where he was the guest of Iowa House Minority Leader Todd Prichard. He also made an appearance at Fat Hill Brewing Company this morning.