Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Student loan relief bill faces tough opposition on Capitol Hill

Mercer 153

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For many students, paying tuition to attend UCLA or any college requires a loan that takes years to pay off. A bill before Congress could make it easier to clear away student loan debt.

Americans owe more on student loans than on cars or credit cards—more than $1 trillion dollars.

That statistic has been floating around for three years or more. Now an L.A. lawmaker has introduced the first House bill in the new Congress to address the student loan debt problem.

Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) is sponsoring the Student Loan Fairness Act. The measure would permanently cap federal student loans at their current levels of 3.4 percent.

Repayment would be spread over 10 years at a rate of 10 percent of discretionary income. After that, the slate is wiped clean, with the federal government picking up the tab for the remainder of the loan amount.

Bass calls her student loan debt relief bill "the most appropriate expense we can make as a nation."

Bass says the Congressional Budget Office hasn’t yet come up with the exact cost of the program, but that cost is likely to scare off GOP support. So she's enlisting students to put pressure on her House colleagues, inviting the public to become “citizen co-sponsors” of the measure.


Jokes at Los Angeles political roast fizzles, focus on May elections

Salute to the olympic games

Andres Aguila/KPCC

L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge was roasted at the annual political event Thursday evening but aside from a few jokes about pumpkin bread and his habit of asking where everyone went to high school, most of the night's jokes focused on the May 21 election.

Los Angeles Mayor race 2013

The annual political roast to raise money for the American Diabetes Association targeted Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge Thursday evening, but with the two mayoral candidates serving as the roasters, the night had more fizzle than sizzle.

More than 850 people packed into a ballroom at the Beverly Hilton to raise about $500,000 at the 16th annual event hosted by lobbyists Harvey Englander and Arnie Berghoff and Councilman Mitch Englander.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky served as the master of ceremonies. Councilman Mitch Englander introduced him as “the man who wants to tax your rainwater” and “the man who will never be mayor.”

The main event featured roasts from Controller Wendy Greuel and Councilman Eric Garcetti. And while their digs focused more on the mayor’s race than LaBonge, it remained pretty tame.


Maven's Morning Coffee: Antonio Villaraigosa reflects on tenure, city attorney goes after digital signs, Pershing Square makeover has uncertain future



Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sat down with KPCC's Patt Morrison to reflect on his eight years in office.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, public meetings and announcements you need to know to fuel up and tackle your day.

The Maven's Morning Coffee is also available as a daily email. Click here to subscribe.

Today is Friday, March 22, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


What is Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's legacy after eight years in office? KPCC's Patt Morrison sits down with Villaraigosa -- who explains why the city of Los Angeles should be its own county and why the mayor should run the public school system.

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich wants CBS Outdoor and Clear Channel to voluntarily remove 100 digital signs, reports the Daily News. The city attorney also filed a court order to have the signs turned off.


Some members of Congress frustrated at being left out of key debates; some long for a return to 'regular order'

Republican Congressman John Campbell of Irvine predicts a return to regular order — at least at the back end of the budget debate, once both the House and Senate pass their own versions.

Freshman Democratic Congressman Mark Takano of Riverside complains that big issues, such as the sequester and raising the debt ceiling, are being shuffled off to select groups without any input from the rank-and-file.

In both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, select groups of lawmakers are working on immigration reform. These exclusive “working groups” are bypassing the usual legislative process.

As a result, a growing number of members of Congress are longing for the old days when laws were crafted in committees – a return to what's known as "regular order."

But what exactly does that mean?

Donald Ritchie, the Senate Historian, says regular order is what you'd learn in Political Science 101. 

"It’s how a bill becomes law," Ritchie says. "A bill is referred to the committee, the committee hands it over to a subcommittee, the subcommittee holds hearings, reports it back to the committee where it is amended, and then the committee sends it to the floor for the debate."

In other words, what we all learned on “Schoolhouse Rock," where a singing bill was stuck in committee, while: "a few key Congressmen discuss and debate whether they should let me be a law."


Maven's Morning Coffee: Richard Riordan joins Greuel campaign, LA pays out in discrimination case, bids roll in for Crenshaw Metro Line

Richard Riordan


Former Mayor Richard Riordan has joined Wendy Greuel's mayoral campaign as an economic adviser.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, public meetings and announcements you need to know to fuel up and tackle your day.

The Maven's Morning Coffee is also available as a daily email. Click here to subscribe.

Today is Thursday, March 21, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


Former Mayor Richard Riordan joined the Wendy Greuel mayoral campaign as an adviser of economic issues, reports KPCC. The LA Weekly points out this is the third mayoral candidate that the former mayor has backed. Riordan tells the Daily News he'll help the campaign look at pension and health care issues, including 401 (k) plans for employees.

In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, Sen. Dianne Feinstein makes the case for sending Sulaiman abu Ghaith to a federal U.S. prison, rather than Guantanamo. "Our partners and allies around the world have recognized the strength and legitimacy of the civilian criminal justice system and have cooperated with efforts to bring terrorists to justice in American courts," she writes.