Political rhetoric, abortion, student debt, history

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President Joe Biden plans to emphasize in a primetime speech Thursday night that we are in a battle for the “soul” of America.

I have a problem with that kind of rhetoric.

I was speaking with a cousin of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and how he delayed President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination for eight months, but rushed to pick President Donald Trump six weeks after the death of Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I asked if he thought that was hypocritical. He said, “Absolutely, but we are fighting for the soul of America.”

The problem is, anything can be justified when you’re fighting for a soul. Let’s keep our discussions more grounded and reserve heavenly things for the church.

Harry Kelley, St. Louis Park


As we inch closer to the fall election, many Republicans are softening the anti-abortion stances they previously held to positions more palatable to moderate voters. This includes Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen, whose position previously only allowed abortion to preserve the life of the mother, but no support for incest or rape. It recently switched to include the last two cases. This mirrors statements by Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh during their Senate confirmation hearings. There, all testified that previous court decisions like Roe v. Wade should not be challenged on the basis of precedent or the legal doctrine of stare decisis (Latin for “sticking to things decided”). Yet all decided to overthrow Roe.

Voters should trust the long-held opinions of the candidates running, not the last-minute deceptions used to secure their vote that can be summarily dismissed once elected.

Patricia Arneson, Wayzata


I’m getting tired of all the defamatory TV commercials against Jensen and his views on abortion. He will get my vote regardless. Of all the problems facing this country today, abortion is very low on the list of what concerns me.

My vote will not be swayed by negative publicity for one candidate or another. Instead of wasting all that money on TV commercials, why not donate it to all the causes you care about?

Barry Peterson, Prior Lake


Many are confused by the free gift of a forgiven student loan. I understand the reactions: the students agreed to pay the loan, so why should it be forgiven? Earning a six-figure income should pay off a debt of $10,000. We should direct the profit to those in public service (teachers, nurses, etc.). And other rational arguments.

But let’s put things in perspective: who really benefits from student loan programs?

  1. Lenders. The government-sponsored student loan program opened up a new revenue stream for banks and other lenders to put in more money at higher interest rates. Student loans charge high rates when the federal government could have borrowed money in the market at around 1%. The government has guaranteed the loans, so there is no risk for the lenders. Why did their prices have to be so high?
  2. Colleges and Universities. More money for students means more money for educators, including professors who don’t teach and administrators who earn seven-figure salaries. Could student loan programs be limited to colleges and universities that are more efficient in their spending and therefore charge less for tuition? Many of these schools have billion dollar endowments. Did these institutions need financial assistance?

Students are just conduits for money that goes to others. If our government is going to support these lenders and educators, shouldn’t we also be supporting students?

Bernie H. Beaver, Edina


The economic history of higher education in the United States results in colleges moving out of the market. For decades, the federal government and higher education have been complicit in loan programs that have allowed college costs to spiral out of control far beyond the consumer price index. What has been a sauce for higher education has become a disaster for graduates struggling with huge debts, and it discourages prospective students and their families. Greedy colleges have been their worst enemy.

Grant Skip North, Edina


Over the past few days, I’ve read and listened to the passionate pro/con reactions to Biden’s student debt relief action. I’m inclined to align myself with the pro side as it seems most of the help will go to fellow citizens who are teachers, nurses, social workers, store managers etc. Education is good and our society needs these people in the valuable roles they play. Why not give them a little financial break?

In response to those who make the logical argument “I didn’t get a break/what about me?” I’m inclined to think that one of the ten Christian commandments says something about not coveting your neighbor’s possessions. We should not be jealous or envious of the good fortune that falls on someone else.

Both sides of this debate should now move forward and ask themselves, “How can we change the faulty systems that have gotten us to this point?”

  1. Why does the US government charge interest on these loans? How about five to 10 year “cash-like” financing with a prepayment discount?
  2. Why are these loans often excluded from bankruptcy filings?
  3. What can be done to reduce college tuition? (We baby boomers had nowhere near that expense.)
  4. Why don’t colleges that offer/allow borrowing inform their students of the effect high borrowing for low paying jobs will have on their lives? It seems to be Finance 101.
  5. What are colleges with huge endowments doing to offer scholarships to offset high costs/borrowing temptations? Do teacher unions use their funds to provide scholarships for their future workforce?

Let us move the debate and the discussion forward towards real solutions to the real problem — education, which is precious for our society, very expensive and difficult to obtain reasonably for many of our fellow citizens.

Tom McDonough, Eagan


The student loan forgiveness plan will teach no life lessons. The students knew what they were getting into when they signed the loan documents.

A better plan would be to cancel loans for students entering work fields that currently need employees: nursing, teaching, and other professions.

Most university graduates have or have had loans and have repaid them. That’s what a mature person does. If you can’t pay, don’t buy. It’s called life.

Nancy Johnson, New Richmond, Wis.


After a visit to the beautiful Hoċokata Ti Museum in Shakopee, I was struck by how little I knew about the history of the people who lived here before my ancestors arrived. I was deeply saddened not only by the tragic history of the Dakota people and the theft of their land and way of life, but also that much of it was unknown to me, and perhaps to many who now inhabit this land. While there is no way to undo this dark history, there is a bill currently before Congress, the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Residential Schools Policy Act, which I think could help to recognize and begin to heal some of the traumas of the past. Please join me in calling on our members of Congress to support this bill and ensure its speedy passage. Thanks!

Micki Rasmussen, Bloomington