New York Times Takes Note of Cohen Bill on Student Loans

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There are two Steve Cohen campaigns at the moment — or two-in-one. The congressman’s campaign for reelection in the 9th District of Tennessee coincides rather neatly with his ongoing campaign as a cutting-edge legislator.

Memphis mayor Willie Herenton attacked Cohen’s alleged lack of a record week before last at Herenton’s impromptu press conference in front of Cohen’s headquarters, but the charge would seem tenuous in light of fresh national publicity given the Memphis congressman’s legislative efforts.

Since his first election in 2006, Cohen has garnered considerable attention for his various initiatives, including a House resolution apologizing for the history of American slavery, infant mortality legislation, and a variety of bills relating to credit card reform.

The most recent of these latter was cited in a Friday New York Times article, “Student Debt and a Push for Fairness,” which credited Cohen as the author of a measure that would make it easier for recipients of privately granted student loans to mitigate the repayment requirements after graduation.

Cohen’s bill would make it easier to discharge all of part of a borrower’s repayment obligations for such loans in bankruptcy court. “People don’t like to go through bankruptcy. It’s not like going to get a milkshake,” Cohen said in defense of his bill.

Speaking to his motivation, the congressman said, “Philosophy and policy can get you on the Rachel Maddow show, but what you want to do is pass legislation and affect people’s lives.”

As the Times article noted, borrowers have been able to get relief under the 2005 bankruptcy law for such expenses as home theater systems or even casino loans but have thus far been ineligible to apply for relief for student loans.

The Cohen bill would not affect federally granted loans, which are guaranteed by the government.

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