It’s reasonable for a lot of people to be upset about Uncle Joe’s effort. It’s actually rather difficult to envision an action to forgive student loan debt that would cause less anger in a broad sense. Since anything so minor relative to the size of the problem can only be an empty gesture, and since it’s a $300 billion expense paid from an underwater tax budget directly to banks, it’s guaranteed to cause anger.
I mean, yes, a lot of banks will be happy. A few lucky borrowers will have one less payment, but most — those with the most debt, who presently are losing ground against interest, will see no difference at all in their monthly budgets and not even a delay in their eventual inevitable bankruptcies.
In all justice even the most virulent anti-Biden promoter of personal responsibility must admit that there exists a problem: Schools cost too much, lenders are behaving in a predatory fashion, and thus salaries don’t repay the investment for most college degrees. These aren’t in dispute by anyone with an intelligence greater than pond scum. Even those unsympathetic souls who point to the relative profitability of trade schools — welding pays quite well, and air conditioners will always need repair — by so doing tacitly acknowledge that a university degree has a low benefit-to-cost ratio.
Lenders charge what the market will bear, which in the case of student loans means what borrowers can pay. If the government pays a small percentage of the gross debt, it merely encourages them to raise rates — while being well-paid to do so.
College expenses will not decrease by a single penny due to this effort. In fact, if it has any ameliorative impact at all, the net result will be to reduce public displeasure with the cost of an education, delaying any substantive solution.
There are any number of positive actions that can and should be taken to address the general problem. TICAS is an independent think tank committed to doing exactly this, and they have dozens of proposals that, if acted upon even on a state or local level, would accomplish a great deal. There’s no real mystery here; it’s not at all unsolvable.
But instead all we get is a hollow yet horrifically expensive gesture from the Oval Office that can be interpreted in no other way than as a particularly venal and irresponsible effort to buy votes rather than actually attempt to fix anything.
In the immortal words of Sen. Michael Bennet (D, Colo.), it’s that “…the Democrats don’t care, and the Republicans say they care but are lying.“
Forward Party, anyone?
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