Morgan Griffith is the incumbent candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives position for the 9th district. Griffith is a Salem native, and graduated from Washington and Lee University School of Law. He has been practicing law in Southwest Virginia for over two decades. The Collegiate Times talked with Griffith about his view on upcoming campaign issues, and the topics that affect college students.
What have you done or will you do to make college more affordable?
I voted to extend the lower interest rates on student loans, I think we should continue to do that. It costs some money, and we have to make sure that we are reasonable with our money, but I think this makes sense...
I think we have to keep our student loans at a reasonable cost...The companies managing these loans... would be much more reasonable in dealing with students post-graduation if the student fees... could be bankrupted. I’m not encouraging students to bankrupt, but I think the companies, instead of saying “tough luck,” which a lot of them do to people who are struggling to get their student loans repaid, would be a lot more reasonable in negotiating some kind of a resolution... on the fees and penalties.
And then last, but not least, we need to make it so there’s some competition. The government (has a) monopoly on student loans and when you look at technology... you see that everywhere else, technology brings cost down, except in higher education… There’s got to be a way that we can bring costs down by looking at the technology and seeing if there aren’t new ways.
What technologies are you talking about specifically?
I went and visited four people who are involved in different parts of health care, who got together and figured out a way to (lessen the cost of) blood tests dealing with diabetes and cardiovascular disease... The four of them put the pieces together and said we can make technology make this work for people.
So I’m not going to claim to be an expert in higher education, and I’m not going to claim that I know how to put those pieces together, but there have got to be people out there smart enough to figure out how we can put these pieces together to make it so we can create products that make it cheaper for students to go to school.
Obama has been pushing changes like capping student loan payments, helping subsidize them, and increasing Pell grants to students. Do you support these kinds of changes?
We have to take a look at each one of them individually. I certainly support Pell grants. I think Pell grants are great. I was one of the first classes to participate in Virginia’s program where if you want to go to a private university, the state gives you money to help you offset the cost... I went to Emory and Henry College and received some of that money.
Yet I also think that we have to look at work-study and make sure we keep that program strong... I think it’s important students work while they’re in college because you always appreciate something more if you have to work a little bit for it.
What do you see as the best and most expedient way to provide more jobs to recent graduates?
55 percent of (small business owners) say they would not start their business today, in large measure, because of regulations. When you put so many regulations on people that they don’t want to start businesses, they don’t create jobs. A big part of our job problem in this country is that we’ve regulated our jobs out of existence.
Whenever you see a new set of regulations come in, you see the smaller people in that industry fade away. The big companies might survive, but the small companies don’t... Where job creation generally comes from, particularly when you’re coming out of a recession, is not the giant corporations, it’s the small companies.
So to put more emphasis on small businesses would raise the employment for recent graduates?
It doesn’t matter if it’s two jobs, or a hundred jobs; if a company feels like they can actually make a go at it, they open up a business, they create two jobs. That’s two jobs for graduates.