Vittert: Student loan debt forgiveness unfair to nearly everybody

Joe Biden

President Joe Biden speaks before signing two bills aimed at combating fraud in the COVID-19 small business relief programs Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

(NewsNation) — President Biden’s announcement tomorrow on canceling some student loan debt will be fundamentally unfair to just about everybody.

Tomorrow he’s expected to announce the cancellation of $10,000 of student loan debt for anybody making under $125,000 annually.

There are serious constitutional questions as to whether he can actually do this. Remember, this is money owed by people to the federal government; we the taxpayers will have to pick up the tab. But let’s assume it happens.

Who gets left behind?

  1. Those who never took out student loans
  2. Those who worked through college to avoid loans
  3. Those who used the interest pause to pay down principal
  4. Those who already paid off their loans
  5. People whose parents took out other types of loans
  6. People with less than $10,000 in debt
  7. People with other debts

Now think about if you are are someone who never took out student loans, you worked your way through college to avoid loans. If you already paid your loans, you get nothing.

If you scrimped the past two years during the pandemic loan freeze and paid things down, well you are a sucker. Or if your parents took out a second mortgage to pay your way through college, they are the suckers. You get nothing. What about plumbers or electricians who have loans on tools? They don’t get anything.

At least in theory, the American system is supposed to be fair; this is anything but. Sure, there are some spectacularly dumb takes about this, like from Nina Turner, the former Ohio state senator. She tweeted:

“FYI — student debt cancellation isn’t paid for by the taxpayer, the federal government is the lender. It’s costlier for the government to hold on to the debt.”

Just so we are all on the same page, we are the federal government. That’s the whole point of America, the taxpayers are owed that money.

That’s just a fact.

What’s worse is that Turner is also a former community college professor, so there are people out there with student debt who paid for an education, an education taught by a professor who has zero understanding of how student debt works.

Talk about unfair.

Back to student debt and Turner’s hot takes. She also tweeted:

“$10k student debt cancelation is a PR move that benefits loan refinancing companies. Unfortunately for POTUS you can’t PR your way out of a crisis that impacts 45 million Americans. Cancel all the debt.”

She is on to something here: Canceling all debt is what President Biden promised to do.

From his campaign website: “Forgive all undergraduate tuition related federal student debt from two and four year public colleges and universities and private HBCU’s and MSI’s for debt holders earning up to $125,000.”

That’s not fair either and somehow canceling debt for private black colleges is OK … but normal private colleges, no chance. In a word, that would be racist.

But again I digress. The president is in a political pickle here.

Look at who holds student debt. The vast majority is those under 35 who owe less than $40,000.

And in fairness, student debt is different, it’s the only thing that doesn’t go away during bankruptcy. Sure the government told 18-year-olds that when they signed up, but we did away with debtors prison back in the 1800s.

So let’s talk about what’s fair, forget the politics. We know the president can’t do this politically.
He’s getting raked over the coals for only forgiving $10,000 a person.

But what if he said “fine, student debt is just like all other debt, it goes away in bankruptcy.”

And while he’s at it, what if he taxed the endowments of America’s richest colleges? Harvard’s endowment sits at $42 billion. Yale’s is at $31.2 billion. The University of Michigan, $12.3 billion.

Use those taxes to pay down the debt of the students that went there to get ridiculous degrees.

And look, there are a lot of kids who were taken advantage of. The average student debt for a bachelors degree in religious studies is $31,000. Get a masters in philosophy, $56,000. Literature isn’t much better, $52,000.

Say what you want about the value of liberal arts education, but that is a lousy investment.

First thing you learn in journalism school is that we don’t make any money. You get a Ph.D. in communication and media studies, you have an average of $101,000 in debt, that is like investing your life savings in Bitcoin. It could work out, but nobody would actually suggest it.

A Ph.D. in liberal arts, your debt is $200,000, with really no way to actually pay it off.

It’s not their fault really. They got caught by a system that gives out free money for any type of education.

Bankruptcy protection in exchange for endowment  taxes, that could be fair. There are lots of options, absolutely none of which President Biden will consider.

As Nina Turner said, tomorrow is a PR stunt.

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