There's a big difference between how conservatives and progressives look at the student debt crisis. Last weekend Elizabeth Warren stirred up a hornet's nest of conservative opposition when she went on Face the Nation and made the progressive case for why to eliminate federal student debt entirely. After mentioning that "We've got millions of people across this country who say they're not ready for their student loan payments to resume, that they simply can't manage those loan burdens," Margaret Brennan suggested that Biden may not have the authority to cancel the debt, the lie that weak-knee-ed Democrats are pushing rather than fight conservatives.
Warren is not weak-knee-ed. "Look," she replied, we know that the president has the authority to cancel student loan debt and the best way we know that is because President Obama did it, President Trump did it, and President Biden has now done it repeatedly. The power is clearly there... [They've] canceled it for people in certain categories entirely but they have also canceled the interest that is due on people's student loans. They haven't deferred it. They have canceled it because the power of the cancellation is already in the statute. President Obama, President Trump, President Biden have all done it. And understand on cancellation this is something the American people want and it's something that tens of millions of people need. Forty percent of the folks who are handling student loan debt don't have a college diploma. These are people who tried, but life happened: pregnancy, they were working three jobs, their mom got sick, they had to move to another city. And now they earn like a high school grad but they are trying to manage college loan debt and it is crushing them."
Brennan then brought up the latest bullshit conservative excuse for not doing it: inflation. Warren, as always, was prepared: "No, it is not inflationary. Not paying student loans has been baked in for three years now. But keep in mind, as President Biden himself says, the way we deal with inflation is not by making people poorer. The way we deal with inflation is we attack high prices head on, price gouging. We straighten out the supply chain so goods can come into people. We attack it head on, not by trying to make people poorer. Canceling student loan debt is something that would be good for people all across this country and more importantly, good for our economy overall."
In the video up top, you can see that California conservative shill, corrupt New Dem Tony Cardenas asked Biden to cancel $10,000 worth of debt, something no one thinks is a good idea other than conservative Democrats like Cardenas, Biden and their bankster buddies. I feel fairly certain, though, that that's what Biden is going to do-- $10,000 and... now go away kids.
Prospective 2024 progressive presidential candidate and best-selling author Marianne Williamson told me today that "Some of the resistance to the idea is very odd. The idea that 'I suffered therefore you should suffer too'-- when the truth of the matter is that neither of you should have ever had to suffer since financial institutions were just making billions of dollars off your suffering-- is a feeling I don’t understand. Then there are those who don’t want their tax dollars to go towards someone else’s education, when some of the same people seemed to have no problem whatsoever with our tax dollars going towards bombing innocent women and children in Iraq or Afghanistan. What are they thinking our tax dollars or going for now? Last but not least, it’s worth pointing out that canceling the college loan debt will put over $1 trillion into circulation and expand the economy for everyone. It will counter income inequality and help economically unshackle 46 million people. This country desperately needs a reset and this is one of the ways we can achieve one."
Republicans are adamantly against any student loan debt forgiveness at all and John Thune (R-SD) has introduced a bill to try to prevent it. Original co-sponsors are Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Mike Braun (R-IN) and Roger Marshall (R-KS). Thune's p.r. hack wrote "As Americans continue to return to the workforce more than two years since the pandemic began, it is time for borrowers to resume repayment of student debt obligation. Taxpayers and working families should not be responsible for continuing to bear the costs associated with this suspension of repayment. This common-sense legislation would protect taxpayers and prevent President Biden from suspending federal student loan repayments in perpetuity."
Shervin Aazami, a progressive Democrat running for the San Fernando Valley occupied by corrupt corporate Dem Brad Sherman, had a response for teh Republicans. "Cancelling student debt is a bailout for working and middle class Americans. It's also inherently a racial justice issue, as according to the ACLU, two decades after graduating the average Black borrower still owes 95% of their student loan debt while the average White borrower has paid off 94%. Full cancellation would help supercharge economic growth by giving 46 million people the financial peace of mind to start a business, buy a house, switch careers, or simply take time off and rest. Most lawmakers have never had to do the mental gymnastics of figuring out where and how to pay for their bills. It's an exhausting cycle, and it keeps people stuck in jobs that don't pay them enough and aren't satisfying because of their debt burden. Our financial system traps the poorest among us with austerity while the rich get richer off people's debt."
Jason Call is also running against a corrupt corporate incumbent, New Dem Rick Larsen in the northwest corner of Washington. He sees the problem much like Aazami and Warren do This afternoon, he told me that "We need to start with the premise that higher education is an investment from society in an individual that does not just benefit the individual, but has greater returns to society than just the monetary value of the investment. This is inarguably true, and it was the reason for the development of public schools to begin with. We’re now at a point where K-12 education is simply not sufficient to guarantee a competitive position in the job market, and the economic class people are born into is largely the economic class they remain in because access to education/training based advancement is limited to those who can afford it. That’s not the American Dream as it is sold to us. Education is the great equalizer, but education at great personal cost-- costs that are now prohibitive for so many-- literally means the perpetuation of inequality. We need to cancel student debt-- it should never have existed in the first place. Most other places in the world have this figured (just as they have with healthcare). We need to make public colleges and trade schools tuition free. I’m running against a corporate conservative Democrat who not only does not believe this, he actually voted for the bill that made student debt a lifelong curse, unshakable even through bankruptcy. We can do better."
Mitt Romney, who isn't quite a billionaire-- but very close-- doesn't agree.
Culver City Mayor Daniel Lee, a candidate for Karen Bass' old seat on the west side of L.A., does. "Republicans look it as, 'we want free stuff', he told me this afternoon. "Some privileged Democrats look at it as 'paying off your debts'. But, REAL Progressive Democrats and Independents see it as 'not wanting to be charged five to ten times the original amount for an education that they received two decades ago'. It's not a question of paying your debts. It's a question of not wanting to be financially exploited for wanting to get an education."
Last week Warren made the case, succinctly, in a NY Times OpEd. She wrote that "Democrats are the party of working people. Ahead of the 2020 election, we advanced ideas and plans that we believed would, in ways big and small, make our democracy and our economy work better for all Americans. Across this country, voters agreed with us-- and gave us a majority in Washington so that we could deliver on those promises. Republican senators and broken institutions have blocked much of that promised progress. Now Republicans are betting that a stalled Biden agenda won’t give Democrats enough to run on in the midterm elections-- and they might be right... Democrats win elections when we show we understand the painful economic realities facing American families and convince voters we will deliver meaningful change."
[B]y a margin of more than two-to-one, Americans support providing some student loan debt cancellation-- an action the president could take entirely on his own. Doing so would lift the economic outlook for too many borrowers who still weren’t able to get a college diploma, for the millions of female borrowers who shoulder about two-thirds of all student loan debt, and for Black and Hispanic borrowers, a higher percentage of whom take on debt to attend college compared to white students, and have a harder time paying it off after school. With the stroke of a pen, the president could make massive strides to close gender and racial wealth gaps.
That kind of closing of wealth gaps is exactly what conservatives oppose. She ended with a warning to the Republican wing of the Democratic Party: "Democrats cannot bow to the wisdom of out-of-touch consultants who recommend we simply tout our accomplishments. Instead, Democrats need to deliver more of the president’s agenda-- or else we will not be in the majority much longer."
Yesterday the NRCC was foaming at the mouth, whining that one of their ridiculous right-wing think tanks "estimates that canceling student loan debt would increase the inflation rate by between 10 and 50 basis points (0.1 to 0.5 percentage points) in the 12 months after repayment is scheduled to begin. This would represent a 4 to 20 percent increase relative to the median Federal Reserve inflation rate forecast. And NRCC spokesperson added that "Democrats are doing everything in their power to make the inflation crisis even worse." They might want to take a look at this polling data:
Santa Clarita Valley-Antelope Valley progressive Ruth Luevanos, a teacher, city council member and congressional candidate, noted that "Of course conservatives don't want to cancel student debt when their companies are the ones profiting off the exorbitant interest rates charged to students. There are 40 to 60 year olds who are still paying off their college loans as their children are now also having to take out loans to go to college because conservatives defunded public colleges and universities. There are 75 year olds on social media talking about how they finally made their last student loan payment. Congress also blocked any opportunity to refinance student loans or discharge them through bankruptcy for years. Democrats need to forgive all student loan debt and reinvest in our public colleges and universities. Conservatives only want to defund our public colleges and universities so that they can keep making money off of student loans taken out at predatory for profit colleges that they invest money in."
A few days ago CBS News reported that a "new analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found the total outstanding balance for federally owned student loans as of the end of last year was $1.38 trillion. It estimates that limiting the cancellation to $50,000 in student loan debt would forgive the full balances of some 29.9 million-- or 79%-- of the 37.9 million federal borrowers. The average forgiveness would be more than $23,800 per borrower. The cost would be $904 billion. Canceling $10,000 in federal student loan debt would result in $321 billion in debt being wiped out, and would eliminate the entire balances for some 11.8 million borrowers-- or for 31.1% of borrowers. Under that plan, the average forgiveness would be more than $8,400 per borrower."
Let's close out with the perspective from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- and then a meta response from Bernie: