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Rep. Tom Reed visits IC for talk on student debt, climate change

Representative Tom Reed made his second visit of 2019 to Tompkins County on Thursday, speaking to a crowd of mostly students in a lecture room on Ithaca College’s campus.

Invited by the Ithaca College Republicans, Reed briefly addressed the crowd prior to taking questions during an hour long stay on campus. It was not as heavily-attended as a typical Reed event in this area, which would normally draw the bare minimum of hecklers from the political left and usually a contingent of Reed’s supporters from the surrounding rural areas as well (perhaps a result of late public notice for the event, compared to his regular town halls).

To start the event, which was touted as a chance to discuss current political issues facing the nation, Reed mostly took aim at high college tuition prices, excoriating higher education institutions for, as he put it, placing a higher priority on campus amenities instead of education. He also said schools would happily raise prices in order to raise the brand of a degree from that school (more money spent, more valuable degree). In order to chip off some of that money, Reed has proposed a tax on school endowments past a certain dollar amount, which he’s said should then go toward more financial aid.

While Reed showed concern about the rising costs of college, and at student loan debt that ranges from limiting to debilitating upon graduation, he shied away from suggestions from the audience like free college tuition, a proposal that has gained momentum among progressives. No members of the audience broached the idea of student loan forgiveness, although that has also been vaguely mentioned as a possible solution.

Climate change also ended up being a primary topic at the event. Reed said he has tired of the constant back-and-forth debate on the existence of climate change on Capitol Hill, though judging by his stated stance that would seem to be a critique of Republicans since most if not all Congressional Democrats have acknowledged climate change’s impact. He also defended rolling back certain regulating powers of the Environmental Protection Agency, calling those regulations “not balanced” and “unreasonable.”

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