Living the American debt

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.

April 24, 2012 1:27:49 PM PDT
Are you in debt? And if you are, how much do you owe?

That's the top-of-mind conversation for way-too-many peeps these days. From home mortgages to credit cards to student loans.

Yup. Student loans. The financial crutch that allows millions of students to get to and through college, has become a financial albatross around their young little necks once they graduate. Tomorrow, based on some formula I don't begin to understand, is 1T Day - the day U.S. student debt supposedly reaches the $1 trillion mark.

That's more than any other consumer debt. And it's a burden, in part because college grads these days have, despite a recent blip in the stats, fewer prospects than their predecessors. Pretty tough to pay off the average $25,250 student debt (that's what the graduating class of 2010 had) when, it they're lucky, that's what grads are making per year post college. Unless of course they can become a bank president with a golden parachute. But there aren't many of those jobs around.

President Obama started a multi-city college tour today, and - shocker! - he'll speak in several crucial election states - starting with the University of North Carolina and the University of Colorado today, then the University of Iowa tomorrow. He's pushing the issue of student loans because on July 1 - unless Congress acts - the interest rate will double on federally insured student loans, from 3.4 percent to 6.8.

That means thousands of dollars more in payments for millions of people. And they're mostly young people. The Fed in New York estimates that about 37 million Americans have outstanding student loans - with about two-thirds of them under the age of 30.

There was a time when people used to talk about how their homes increased in value; now the new dinner-time chatter may well become how much in debt we are.

I'm just sayin'.

To commemorate T1 Day, the Occupy Wall Street folks are planning protests around the country, with an emphasis on college campuses.

And their quote about what they think of Mr. Obama's solution to the student debt crisis is certainly quotable. A spokesman told me today: "We liken his prescription to the student debt issue as putting a band-aid on a tumor and told to go home."

We'll have the latest on the student loan issue, tonight at 11.

Speaking about money crises, we're taking a closer look at 11 at high bank fees - including charging for using debit cards. Peeps got ticked last year - and many banks caved on the issue because of the protests. But they're going in the back door to make money in the form of overdraft fees. Some banks - now making billions off of them. Consumer Reports has our story.

We're also following the story of a NYPD detective - set to be arraignment tonight, on charges that he hit a pedestrian in his car, and then left the scene without stopping. The victim is an 82-year-old woman in Queens. An eyewitness to the incident followed the detective to his residence and then reported him.

The cop's been placed on "modified duty."

A couple of other quotable quotes today that are worth repeating. Pres. Obama today described the Secret Service officials accused of cavorting with hookers in Colombia as "a couple of knuckleheads." He did insist that the rest of the Secret Service - the ones who protect him - do great work. Smart.

And yesterday New Jersey Gov. Christie said "good riddance" to the Nets as they prep to move to Brooklyn. Turns out, New Jersey politicians are having a tough time with pro sports teams. Earlier this month, Newark Mayor Cory Booker called the owner of Devils hockey team a "grade-A huckster" who came to Newark with "a mouthful of promises and a pocketful of lies."

The owner - Jeffrey Vanderbeek - was the target of Booker's anger because of the public-financing deal worked out by the last mayor of Newark - Sharpe James. James, you'll recall, spent time in prison for corruption. The issue for Booker is a recent arbiter's ruling that Newark owes the Devils money. Stay tuned.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11.


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