Letter: Community college program is necessary

The president’s proposed budget has stirred up a lot of controversy — none of it is unexpected as the entire debate has fallen along the usual party lines.

As the budget gets torn apart in the coming weeks, I would urge Iowa legislators to salvage one aspect of it that I know can benefit our country — free community college. I understand the idea of anything being free will rub some the wrong way, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. 

The fact that we need to address is that a high school diploma is no longer enough to earn a middle-class income. In order to create more jobs that can adequately support American families, we need to broaden access to higher education. More people with better educations and better-paying jobs means a broader tax base with more substantial revenue streams. This means that if our leaders can be men and women of vision and think beyond the short-term costs, this measure could actually help reduce the deficit.

America has a staggering $1.2 trillion in student debt. This is money that is tying up capital, weighing down our youth and is a deadweight loss for our economy. We cannot afford to allow this number to continue to balloon out of control, and this policy would go a long way toward guaranteeing future generations can get good jobs without crippling themselves with debt.  

The question our leaders need to ask themselves is not how can we afford this bill, but rather how can we not? Too much is at stake to let petty party rivalries jeopardize a measure that would mark a resurgence of the American middle class.