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Brian Mark Weber / May 6, 2022

Making Sense of the Student Loan Scam

Joe Biden can’t simply waive away all this debt, but that won’t stop him from politicizing it.

Today’s college students often complain about skyrocketing tuition, and they rightly blame those same higher-ed institutions for saddling them with debt. After all, many of them are now the proud owners of bachelor’s degrees that cost more than $100,000, and they’re bussing tables at a local bar to chip away at the balance.

But in defense of these predatory schools, they merely took advantage of a student loan scam put into place by the very same politicians claiming to be on their side today. That’s why these debt-strapped students shouldn’t be marching against college administrators. Instead, they should be pounding on the doors of Democrats in Washington.

Colleges know that every single undergraduate student walking through their doors is guaranteed more than $50,000 in federal loans, with graduate students able to borrow nearly $140,000. Unsurprisingly, then, tuition rates have soared as this corrupt cycle keeps repeating itself: More loans enable higher tuition, which enables more loans, which enables higher tuition. Now, some Democrats are floating the awful idea (again) of forgiving up to $50,000 of student loan debt.

The Biden administration, however, recently suggested a number closer to $10,000, while adding that loan relief would be limited to those borrowers making less than $125,000.

The idea that the president can simply wipe out student debt is a fantasy, mainly designed to give false hope to young voters whom they hope will be motivated to vote “D” on November 8. But polls currently show that Biden is losing this key demographic.

That’s why Biden is pitching the false idea that he can wipe out student debt on his own. Not even Biden’s own Department of Education believes he has the authority to do so, nor does House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Even if Biden tries, he faces many obstacles. For example, as The Washington Times reports, “Mr. Biden hasn’t publicly confirmed that pledge, but acting unilaterally to cancel student loans would stir division within the Democratic Party, invoke Republican opposition and likely face legal challenges.” The Wall Street Journal details some of these legal concerns, but suffice it to say, the Journal notes even Barack Obama’s former top Education Department lawyer says Biden “would be on shaky legal ground.”

To push it over the finish line, the Democrats are — surprise! — making it about race by claiming that alleviating student debt will help black and Hispanic students, as well as boosting the economy and helping the working class. But according to The Wall Street Journal, “The borrowers Democrats really want to help are white-collar workers with advanced degrees who account for 56% of the $1.6 trillion in federal student debt.”

Regardless of whether Biden actually pulls this off, what might a future Republican Congress do about student debt? As political analyst Charles C.W. Cooke suggests: “The first step for the GOP to take would be ending the student-loan program completely. Given the obvious political temptations that program was always going to create, the federal government should never have gotten into the student-loan business in the first place. But it did, and so here we are.”

Good point. And a Republican Congress and president should apply the same principle to countless other government programs that need to be put on the chopping block. Cooke adds, “If President Biden goes through with his threat, we will have been shown once and for all that the government cannot be trusted to issue these loans on behalf of America’s taxpayers, and that it must not be allowed to do so again.”

Of course, Republicans have held the reins of power before and failed to fix things, so one wonders what they’d do if given another chance. For now, Democrats are proposing an outrageous plan that lets some college students off the hook while insulting others who worked hard to pay back their loans in good faith. Oh, and it makes inflation worse.

There’s another group of Americans, though, that’s largely ignored in this conversation about student loan forgiveness: the millions who didn’t go to college. Should their taxes go to fund such an ill-conceived giveaway?

On a reassuring note, the nearly 60-year-old student loan scheme is another textbook case of the failure of progressivism. Next time those on the Left propose another government program, we can remind them of this and other failures.

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