Alabama editorial roundup


Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:

April 5

Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News on President Barack Obama's health care overhaul:

A few years back, football fans got a good laugh out of a Texas A&M reserve defensive player. With his team trailing Oklahoma 77-0, he made a defensive stop and proceeded to cavort and gambol around to trumpet his athletic prowess. The inappropriate timing wasn't lost on many who watched the highlights on ESPN that night.

That's about what President Barack Obama looked like in the White House Rose Garden as he celebrated the news that 7.1 million people signed up for health care using the government's website. The president reveled in the news that enrollments exceeded previously dumbed-down expectations.

"The debate over repealing this law is over," Obama proclaimed victoriously.

The problem is that the president's victory isn't as complete as he would like people to believe. The law's whole point was to see that uninsured Americans could get affordable health care coverage.

The problem is that the law caused some 5 million Americans to lose their health insurance. So that means the law actually only generated a net gain of 2.1 million Americans. And we don't know how many were previously uninsured. As of now, we also don't know how many of those who signed up for coverage have actually closed the deal and paid their initial premiums.

Polls do indicate that while people don't like the law, they don't want it repealed. On the other hand, they do want changes. Make enough changes and repeal becomes unnecessary. And the president knows his opponents haven't given up. ...

Perhaps opponents of the Affordable Care Act just didn't see any reason why millions of Americans who acted responsibly by paying for insurance should be punished. That's what the Affordable Care Act has done.

The president told Americans they could keep their insurance if they were happy with it. Many now have policies they aren't happy with because of ACA. The president promised affordable health care for all. But instead, ACA has made insurance prohibitively expensive for many who once had affordable insurance.

Obama's entire philosophy revolves around taking from some and giving to others. He promised to fund social programs for the poor by taxing the rich. He promised affordable health care to the uninsured and is achieving it by making good coverage for people who were already insured more expensive.

The president asked why his opponents don't want people to get insurance. Why is he so determined to favor some at the expense of others? Why do his policies slight self-reliant people? Millions of people now stuck with inferior, more expensive health insurance must wonder exactly what the president is celebrating.



April 4

Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser on appointments to university boards of trustees:

When Alabamians elect a governor, they are electing someone to fulfill a number of responsibilities, not the least of which is making appointments to university boards of trustees. These appointments matter and a governor, having been elected statewide, deserves to have these appointments judged fairly when they face confirmation by the state Senate.

More importantly, the public-spirited men and women willing to accept these appointments and all the obligations that go with them deserve fair treatment in the Senate. Still more importantly, the institutions they would serve as trustees deserve to have well-qualified people chosen for their abilities, not for some dubious political arrangement.

Unless a senator in good conscience believes an appointee to be unqualified for the position and can plainly state why, he or she should vote to confirm that individual. To do otherwise is unfair all the way around — to the governor, the appointee and the university.

That is why we share Gov. Robert Bentley's disappointment in the Senate's decision not to confirm two of his four appointments to the Alabama State University board of trustees. Robert Gilpin of Montgomery and Larry Thornton of Hueytown were confirmed, but Jacqueline Brooks and Fitzgerald Washington were not.

No reason was given for rejecting Brooks, superintendent of schools in Macon County, and Washington, an executive with Buffalo Rock in Tuscaloosa. There is nothing to suggest they aren't qualified or that there is any reason to believe they would not be assets to ASU on the board.

Instead, they were victims of an absurd "compromise" — two confirmations, two rejections — that had no basis in anything other than playing politics. Without it, Sen. Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery, who had been a finalist for the ASU presidency, threatened to hold up legislation in the last two days of the session. Sen. Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, chairman of the Senate Confirmations Committee, caved and threw Brooks and Washington under the political bus.

Ross offered no reason for his opposition and acknowledged that he had never even met with Brooks and Washington. That is indefensible.

ASU needs capable, conscientious trustees. Indeed, the need has never been greater, given the many still unresolved fiscal questions facing the university and the gigantic tasks of correcting problems and rebuilding public confidence that loom before ASU's new president, Gwendolyn Boyd.

What ASU does not need is groundless political interference in its governance and in its crucial pursuit of solutions to its problems. Ross has done his alma mater a great disservice.



April 8

Decatur (Ala.) Daily on earning while still learning:

Not only do college graduates get a nicely mounted diploma upon graduation, many get the burden of crippling student-loan debt.

Nationally, student loan debt is estimated at $1 trillion, which means an entire generation of college-educated young men and women are beginning their careers with tens of thousands of dollars in debt to repay. That makes the American dream of owning a home almost impossible for many of them.

But a few colleges across the country have devised creative solutions to alleviating at least some of the debt students carry with them after graduation.

Known as work colleges, they offer students jobs with pay during the course of their education. That pay can be applied toward tuition, or in some cases, tuition credits in exchange for work.

According to the Work Colleges Consortium, the average debt of a graduate of their colleges is $12,121, compared to $21,740 for a typical public college graduate. The average debt for a private nonprofit college graduate is $27,710, and for a private for-profit graduate, the average debt is $33,050.

The last two totals would make decent down payments on moderately priced homes.

Some of the colleges rely on grants and donations to help cover their costs, but one of the keys to their success is relying on student-paid labor to perform functions that otherwise would be done by full-time staff. For example, many of the colleges have large gardens and other operations operated by students. The food finds its way to dining hall tables. ...

As college tuition continues to climb, putting higher education out of the reach of a growing number of young Americans, this is a model that deserves a closer look by colleges and universities. Not only would more people have access to a college education, graduates could enter the workforce with tuition debt that is much more manageable.


©2016 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.