Don’t forgive $ 50,000 in student loan debt. It’s bad for Joe Biden, the Democrats, and America.

Some prominent Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Elizabeth Warren, are put pressure on President Joe Biden cancel up to $ 50,000 in student loan debt by issuing an executive order. It’s a bad idea on so many levels that it’s hard to know where to start.

There should be no controversy about insisting that US citizens 18 years of age or older are adults responsible for what they bought when they signed up, as the phrase “Glengarry Glen Ross” puts it “.,on the dotted line. “Taking a loan that you didn’t understand is not a fraud, no matter how badly you might want it, and there is no compelling reason to make that debt go away with a biden pencil stroke.

But the debate over loan cancellation is now driven by emotion rather than reason. For his supporters, it is a humanitarian act aimed at helping people who have apparently been tricked into taking out loans to go to college and which only miserable morons would reject. To opponents, this is another example of decadent Americans wanting a taxpayer bailout for their personal choices, a liberal boomer gift to their own grandchildren no one will ever see again.

Student loan cancellation is bad policy

I realize this all sounds like a passionate plea to get young people off my lawn, but I’m not a Baby Boomer, Millennial, or Gen Xer. My little notch of the population born between 1958 and 1964 was too young for Buffalo Springfield and too old for Nirvana. I came from a working class family, the first to go to college, and spent years repaying student loans that, in the late 1970s, were issued at inflation rates of almost 14%. I understand the impulse to take this financial grindstone and make it all disappear.

These are all powerful talking points, but perhaps not in the way Democrats might hope.

Rather, let’s talk about whether loan cancellation is good policy at a time when the Democratic Party is resisting with a very slim margin against the authoritarian political movement known as the modern Republican Party. There are three reasons the loan cancellation plan is primarily hurting Democrats in the short term. These are cynical and nasty questions to discuss, but they are not going to go away within the next two election cycles.

Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts on February 21, 2006.

First, Republicans will describe this as a costly giveaway that shows how much Democrats care about college graduates and not at all about workers – and for once, their class war rhetoric won’t be entirely wrong. The beneficiaries will be a select group of Americans.

Indeed, Republicans never miss a turn. They will capture examples of atypical Americans such as those featured recently in a New York magazine article it was, to say the least, unnecessary in the case of forgiveness. It starred a man in his forties who admits being transferred to an expensive school to study film production, a young man in his twenties whose remaining debt of $ 9,800 keeps him from suffering. elective breast reduction surgery, and a gay couple – both full-time professionals with graduate degrees – who feel they don’t have enough money to adopt a baby. (I am familiar with these costs; I am an adoptive father.)

Difficult to sell: How the government can help people pay off student loans and be fair about it

If this is the case for compassion and social justice, these examples will not resonate with the working class without a degree who already feels crushed by other debts for which no magical relief is available, such as medical expenses and housing.

Democrats might answer that minority students, not middle-class whites, would disproportionately benefit because they are more likely to have group student debt. But most of the beneficiaries overall, they would be whites with a college education, and at $ 50,000 a pop, it would be students who made some pretty expensive choices. (The first cycle middle leaves college with over $ 30,000 in debt.)

To his credit, Biden seems to understand this problem, and he has explicitly said that he cannot support a plan that ends up being subsidize Ivy League training. Schumer and Warren nevertheless seem determined to enter this political buzz.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., At a student debt press conference on February 4, 2021, in Washington, DC

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., At a student debt press conference on February 4, 2021, in Washington, DC

Second, it is a bad idea (both in politics and in military strategy) to pay twice for the same victories. If the goal is to expand the Democratic coalition, then reward a group that is is already switching to the Democratic Party – college educated voters – while shrugging off those who go bankrupt due to serious illnesses and other inevitable problems is the wrong way to do it.

It is one thing to consolidate the base; it is quite another to alienate the voters obtainable by doing so.

Third, the insistence that this be done by decree – a habit that both parties must break – without any significant legislative reform regarding school debt (which could include reform of bankruptcy laws, abolition of interest or even , to destroy thought, making the colleges partly responsible for a situation they helped to create) means that there is no way to present this plan as anything other than a one-time buyout of the voters. Biden, wisely, prefers a legislative solution, but last week White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said the administration was reviewing the scope of the president’s action legal authority On the question.

Joe Biden should hold on

Democrats shouldn’t underestimate how an attempt to eliminate debt by Order in Council will create resentment in all directions – among people who didn’t go to college and have crippling debts of other types, among those who have been there but who have chosen not to contract significant debts. , among those who went to pay their debts, and perhaps most worrying, among future voters who will never get the same deal.

Unless the plan is to engage in cyclical student debt bailouts, future generations will continue to struggle while they must hear about the Golden Day of Atonement, which was granted to Democrats in the United States. middle class then vanished into the mists of history. – and Republicans will make sure today’s students remember it that way years from now.

Reform is what we need: I took out student loans with my eyes wide open, but too many degrees aren’t worth the debt

College is too expensive for many reasons, but waving a benevolent hand and simply forgiving debt will create social antagonism, undermine the fundamental virtue of paying off debt, and perhaps most importantly, in the short term, will hurt capacity. of the Democratic Party to defend government control from completely false Republicans.

With all the problems facing the United States in 2021, is canceling student loans worth the political capital Democrats are going to have to spend to get it? Biden doesn’t seem to think so, and he should hold on.

Tom Nichols, USA TODAY Contributor Council, is the author of “Our worst enemy: Interior assault on modern democracy,Coming in August. Follow him on Twitter: @RadioFreeTom

You can read various opinions from our Council of contributors and other writers on the Notice in the spotlight, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily opinion bulletin. To respond to a column, send a comment to [email protected]

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Forgiving $ 50,000 in student loans is a bad idea for Biden and America


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