Actress Jane Lynch talked about her role in a new PSA aimed at helping kids and their parents deal with the rising cost of college during an appearance on MSNBC’s NOW with Alex Wagner Tuesday. Lynch explained how her own nieces and nephews are struggling to pay back student loans while at the same time trying to search for jobs to help pay their debt.
Wagner and Lynch discussed the billions of dollars crippling students and recent college graduates, and noted that “student loan is the biggest source of American debt after mortgages.” A recent Sallie Mae study, “How America Pays for College 2012,” showed that 69% of families eliminated the option of college because of cost.
“It’s almost as if we’re dumbing ourselves down,” Lynch said about the partisan fight over education. “A college education is a terrific opportunity for a child to bloom and grow.”
Yet, across the country, states are seeing major cuts to funding in higher education. In California, the two public systems of higher education endured cuts of $650 million each, and could lose $100 million more if the state fails to meet revenue expectations, according to The New York Times.
As funding for colleges decrease, the number of student loans available increased, which has created confusion for students and their families. Lynch pointed Wagner toward CollegeFinanceCenter.org, a new website devoted to helping families understand their loan options and how to pay them back.
“We’ve totally demeaned the value of education by making it so hard for kids to go to school,” Lynch said. “It’s a huge issue. We’re talking about the future here.”
New York Daily News columnist S.E. Cuppresponded to the House’s decision to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act today on Now with Alex Wagner, calling it “an example of federal overreach and redundancy.”
“If I came to you and I said, ‘I have this new piece of legislation, and I’m going to call it the Stealing From Men Act,’ you’d say, ‘That’s preposterous. Stealing from men is a crime in all 50 states.’ So is violence against women. [It’s] a crime in all 50 states,” Cupp argued, adding that the new version of VAWA was bizarre because it also included protections for men.
“It’s redundant,” Cupp added. “Violence against men and women is already a crime.” (Video after the jump.)
However, VAWA’s sole purpose is not to criminalize violence against women.
The Violence Against Women Act was first passed in 1994 and provided taxpayer money for protection of domestic abuse victims and other programs and services to support victims, including community violence prevention programs, funding for victim assistance services such as rape crisis centers and hotlines, and legal aid for survivors of violence. The Act also allocates money to investigate and prosecute violent crimes against women.
The bill has largely been seen as a bipartisan issue, and was reauthorized by Congress in 2000 and again in 2005, but has been a point of contention in the House this year when theSenate’s version expanded those protections to same-sex couples, illegal immigrants, and those living on Native American tribal lands.
(For more about the effects of VAWA and Native American lands, watch this interview between Melissa Harris-Perry and Jacqueline Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, from last month.)
House Republicans made slight amendments to their version of VAWA before yesterday’s vote in an attempt to address concerns from women’s groups, but as National Organization for Women president Terry O’Neill told Politico, “It doesn’t come with a country mile of being enough.”
Despite the criticism and the White House’s threat to veto the Republican’s version of VAWA, the House passed the bill with a vote of 222-205.
“I think that when we have a whole new set of circumstances where women in great peril aren’t being abused on a daily basis, and women in Congress themselves are coming forward and saying, ‘We are not protected. I am not getting what i need,’ to vote against this is shameful,” said author and Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead in response to Cupp’s comments about VAWA.