We talked a couple of weeks about Republican hostility towards federal aid for college students. Pat Garofalo posted this video from last night’s debate, showing several leading candidates denouncing the very idea of the federal government helping young people get their degree.

YouTube video

Garofalo’s summary was spot-on:

Outstanding student loan debt is projected this year to hit $1 trillion for the first time, while the average college student now graduates with more than $25,000 in debt. Federal student aid has failed to keep pace with the skyrocketing cost of tuition, even as the U.S.’s educational attainment begins to trail that of other developed nations.

According to the Lumina Foundation, by 2025, the U.S. will be short 16 million college educated workers. But according to the GOP presidential candidates, who took part in yet another primary debate last night, the government should deal with these problems by doing away with federal student loans.

I’d just add that Republican hostility towards student aid appears to be broadening and intensifying. Indeed, though he wasn’t pressed on the issue last night, Herman Cain is another Republican presidential candidate who is on record saying Washington should make no effort to help young people and their families with college costs.

And It’s not just the GOP presidential candidates. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) recently told voters the Pell Grant program is “unsustainable” (it’s actually sustainable with some sensible reforms, making Ryan’s drive to gut the program unnecessary) and that he was outraged that the Obama administration “confiscated the private student loan industry” (that never happened).

The question that needs further discussion is why Republicans are so eager to make it harder for young people to further their education in the first place.

College tuition costs are soaring to the point of being “out of control.” Young people are entering the workforce shouldering $1 trillion in student-loan debt. Given global competition and the need for the most educated workforce the nation can muster, policymakers should be making every effort to make higher ed more accessible, not less, at costs that are more affordable, not less.

And yet, here we are, with national Republican figures cutting funding for student loans, pushing for the elimination of student grants, and in the case of some GOP presidential candidates, calling for the end of federal student assistance altogether.

While they’re at it, Republican officials are also imposing new voter restrictions, which affect several key constituencies — most notably, students.

Talk about losing the future….

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.