Congressman talks about student loans, Chinese dissident

alt

Work moves forward on the outdoor lot at Coweta-Fayette EMC on Friday as U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, center left, tours the utiity.

By W. WINSTON SKINNER
winston@newnan.com
During his visit to Coweta-Fayette EMC on Friday, U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland explained his vote on a controversial student loan interest bill and commented on the plight of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng.
Westmoreland said he voted against a measure to keep interest rates on first-year student loans at 3.4 percent. The rates were reduced from 6.8 percent in 2007, and the pending July 1 increase has created wide media coverage.
Westmoreland said the one-year low rate is of limited value to students.
He also said there are other issues that are more significant to those currently in college. “We need jobs for those people who have student loans,” the Republican said.
Westmoreland described the student interest issue as “just a shell game.”
The congressman, who lives near Grantville, also spoke briefly about Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese activist who became the center of a diplomatic standoff during a visit by U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to China.
A self-taught lawyer and symbol in China’s civil rights movement, Chen embroiled Washington and Beijing in their most delicate diplomatic crisis in years after he escaped house arrest and sought refuge in the U.S. Embassy more than a week ago. He left six days later under a negotiated deal in which he and his family were to be safely relocated in China so he can formally study law, according to Associated Press.
Chen then upended the agreement by saying they wanted to go abroad.
On Friday, he was in a Beijing hospital where he was reunited with his wife, son and daughter. Westmoreland expressed concerns about reports that Chen may have been coerced to leave the embassy by American officials.
“I just hope that isn’t true,” Westmoreland said. “We don’t know all the truth about it right now – how it happened.”
Westmoreland reflected on the fiscal aspects of the United States’ involvement with Chen, as well as the human rights issues involved.
“We don’t know what it cost us economically or financially to make that happen,” he said of Chen’s temporary asylum at the embassy. “At some point in time, you have to quit rewarding people for bad behavior.”
Chinese officials have said Chen and his family can leave the Asian nation if he has an opportunity to study abroad. AP reported Chen has a letter of invitation from New York University.


More Local

Suspected gang affiliation

Four men arrested after shots fired

Four men believed to be members of a local gang were arrested by Newnan Police officers following a shooting late Wednesday. There was nobod ... Read More


EC, Northgate among nation’s challenging schools

Two Coweta County high schools, East Coweta and Northgate, were recognized as two of “America’s Most Challenging High Schools,&r ... Read More


Main Street Newnan Road Race

Are you ready for Sunrise on the Square?

Dust off those running shoes. Main Street Newnan is continuing its Labor Day weekend traditions with the annual Mike Fitzpatrick Ford Sunris ... Read More


Canongate Elementary welcomes new principal

By Celia Shortt celia@newnan.com Betty Robinson was recently named Canongate Elementary School’s new principal. “It has been suc ... Read More


Scene from ‘Divergent’ sequel filmed in Coweta

A scene for the movie “Insurgent” – the second film in the “Divergent” series, was filmed Thursday in a pastur ... Read More

Main Street Newnan recognized by Gov. Deal

Main Street Newnan has received two Georgia Downtown Conference Awards of Excellence, highlighting the city department’s work in econo ... Read More