Jeff Fortenberry's Bunker Mentalityby Kyle Michaelis
Still, in today's Lincoln Journal-Star, Fortenberry writes a half-hearted and disingenuous defense against a powerful Letter to the Editor last week from UNLs student body President denouncing Fortenberry's unthinking and unforgivable vote:
As one of the approximately 100,000 college students in Nebraska, I could not be more disappointed with Fortenberry’s vote....
College students and those who care deeply about the value of higher education in this state should take notice of this prime example of the kind of priorities Fortenberry has in Washington, D.C.....
Matt Schaefer, Lincoln
student regent and student body president, UNL
To that, the best Fortenberry could manage was a total retread of an earlier Letter to the Editor that had run in the Daily Nebraskan. Compare the language:
Fortenberry's Old Letter (DN)
The U.S. government is involved in helping students in a number of ways. It provides grants and direct loans and guarantees loans made by the private sector. Many of these programs have empowered more persons to access higher education than ever before.
However, I remain concerned that college tuition rates have greatly outstripped inflation, and there is reasonable apprehension that government programs, particularly borrowing, are correlated to these tuition increases. Nonetheless, in the last Congress I voted to increase borrowing limits for new students, decrease fees paid by students when obtaining a student loan and increase grant aid for low-income students. We also significantly increased fees on private sector loan providers in order to fund these new benefits for students.
This year, I carefully reviewed the proposal to increase the taxpayer subsidy, which may, in effect, encourage further indebtedness and fuel tuition increases. Instead of supporting legislation to temporarily reduce interest rates - providing benefits for graduates exclusively - I backed a measure that would have provided lower interest rates to low and middle-income college graduates and those serving in the Armed Forces.....
Another overlooked point...is the fact that my office spends considerable time and resources working with the University of Nebraska to enhance projects and educational opportunities.
Fortenberry's "New" Letter (LJS)
As a matter of good public policy, the U.S. government seeks to help students obtain reasonable access to higher education. It does so in a number of ways, such as providing grants, direct loans, and guaranteeing loans made by the private sector.Wow, that's a pretty nice word jumble. I bet Fortenberry's secretary took all of five minutes copying and pasting from GOP talking points to put together these patch-work responses.
Of serious concern is the fact that college tuition rates have greatly outstripped inflation. There is reasonable apprehension that government assistance, particularly borrowing programs, has directly affected these tuition increases.
Nonetheless, in the last Congress, I voted to increase borrowing limits for new students, decrease fees paid by students when obtaining a student loan and increase grant aid for low-income students. We also increased fees significantly on private-sector loan providers in order to fund these new benefits for students.
This year, I carefully reviewed and chose not to support a proposal that may encourage further indebtedness and fuel tuition increases. This narrow legislation was considered without any opportunity for committee oversight, input from the public, or amendment. This is not responsible public policy or process.
I did back a measure that would have provided lower interest rates to low- and middle-income college graduates and those serving in the armed forces. In addition, my office spends considerable time and resources working with the University of Nebraska to enhance projects and educational opportunities for young people. These are important efforts to improve access to quality education for Nebraska students.
What's most impressive and most indicative of students' outrage, though, is the number of comments on the Journal-Star's website debunking Fortenberry's pathetic game of misdirection to justify a vote for which, if he had any integrity, he would simply apologize. I won't quote them all here, but - seriously - check them out.
Finally, it's worth noting that Fortenberry has adopted a bunker mentality on this matter, as he seems to be in hiding to avoid being asked any tough questions by student journalists who share their compatriots outrage and who also want to see their representatives held accountable for their actions.
Here's a telling excerpt from the University of Nebraska-Omaha's student paper when they reported on Fortenberry's vote:
When the Gateway tried to contact Fortenberry early last week, his office told us that he had a very busy week and suggested that we use the quote he offered UNL's student newspaper, the Daily Nebraskan.
Clearly, Fortenberry must have meant his already retreaded "Letter to the Editor" (seen above) because, when the Daily Nebraskan actually tried to contact Fortenberry and get him to answer some questions, they reported:
Fortenberry has not been available for comment since Tuesday.Sort of speaks for itself, doesn't it? Jeff Fortenberry is not available for comment because he doesn't want to be held accountable. But, at least, we can count on him for more BS in Letters to the Editor that allow him to hide from his critics while making whatever nonsense justification he can for being a horrible representative.
That's our Jeff "Bought & Paid-For" Fortenberry. As I'm sure Nelnet can attest, he's worth every penny - though it's students, parents, and voters-at-large who will ultimately pay the price.