Are We *Arguing* About Canceling Student Debt? Really? Well I Think We Should Quit!
Mondays are my day off, which means I have all the time in the world to clean the house, make some dinner, play with the girls, do my thank you notes, and dick around on Twitter, where I was displeased to see that yesterday's most important topic in the world was ... Democrats infighting about how Joe Biden shouldn't take executive action to forgive up to $50,000 in student loan debt per lucky ducky debtor.
Here are all their stupid arguments, and here is why their stupid arguments are dumb and wrong.
Did you know it is a "moral hazard" to let people escape from under their duly contracted obligations and debts? That is why there is no such thing as "bankruptcy" in our country, oh wait there is, but you can't use it for student debt, because ... oh hmmm nobody knows why. (Haha, fun fact: Until 1976, education loans could be forgiven in bankruptcy, but successive "reforms," which lenders lobbied for like crazy, whittled that away, and eventually led to the exclusion of any student loans in the 2005 bankruptcy law, cheerfully titled the "Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act.")
Anyway, of all the things it's a "moral hazard" to blow all your non-money on, "a college education" is right up there with ... no, I can't even think of a joke here because "Trump's casinos" and "Trump's contractors" and "Trump Airlines" and "every deal Trump ever made" are not apposite analogies to "going to college."
Not a Stimulus
Former Obama guy Jason Furman argued that forgiving $1.7 trillion in student debt would not even be a good stimulus because it's taxable (it isn't) and I guess he had some other points too but he was so wrong in his very first one that who cares. As of April 2020, about 20 percent of student loan debt holders were in default, and that was before 20 million Americans lost their jobs. Average student loan monthly payments are just under $400 — and as everyone with a student loan knows, paying that minimum amount means your principal will never, ever, ever go down. Millennials aren't buying houses, they're not having kids, because they can't afford to. Their college cost about five times what it cost Gen X to go to college, and "mathematical impossibility" what it cost the Boomers, because you can't divide by "zero."
College tuition vs inflation
I know they whine a lot, and are generally Millennial-y, but about this, Millennials are absolutely right. We boned them HARD on college, and without extraordinary help, they'll never get out from under it and spend some money on "other stuff," the kind that actually keeps an economy going. "$1.7 trillion to 45 million Americans won't do stimulus" my ass.
Resentment From People Who Paid Theirs Already
I paid mine already. Because it was $20,000 total, after work study and jerbs. Two hundred dollars a month for 10 years? That is an amount people can pay off. Now it's $22,000 a year, on average, for in-state tuition and room and board at state schools.
I assume my daughter will go to college. If she joins whatever is the 2030s version of an ashram instead, I assume some children in my town will go to college. My stepson's got an unknown chunk of debt when he graduates at an unknown future date. Heck, my husband still has "more than I am entirely comfortable with and at which I throw a huge chunk of our salary every month because remember that part about people's principal never ever going down, well after the first year of our paying more than the large minimum on it I saw it had not gone down and I CRIED."
Also, what Jaboukie said:
Resentment From People Who Don't Go To College
Not every program will benefit every person. Some people don't have kids and get mad about "taxes for schools." Some people aren't poor and get mad about fucking food stamps. A LOT of people get very GRR MAD when anybody gets anything they don't. That's a shame, but it's on them. The answer shouldn't be "nobody gets anything"; the answer should be that there is an entire suite of programs designed to help different people with different needs, and that we repeal the goddamn 2017 billionaire tax cut to pay for it.
This one came from Left and Right, and it was odd! After excoriating Hillary Clinton for tailoring her free college proposals to only those whose family incomes were under $125,000, some of the same people are very angry that this is free money going to the upwardly mobile instead of the working class. (Millennials, graduating into the 2008 recession and now hitting very early middle age at the 2020 recession — have never been upwardly mobile.)
Class resentments are very effective! There is also no reason in the world that middle class people — who are almost extinct — and working class people can't have solidarity, especially when the usual mode in this country, seen in this very administration, is "$1.7 trillion for millionaires and billionaires" instead.
Say, CNBC, who is hardest hit in the student loan crisis? Oh, it is young working class people of color, and the student debt crisis is actually "a civil rights issue"? Oh, weird.
"The day our bill gets signed into law, that black-white wealth gap would shrink by 25 points," the Massachusetts senator [Elizabeth Warren] said. Under the proposal, introduced along with Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., borrowers with household incomes under $100,000 would get $50,000 of their student debt forgiven. Higher earners would get a smaller share of their debt voided.
It Only Goes To Rich People
See above, dummies.
Tailor It To People Who Need It
Don't need $50,000 of student loan debt lopped off? There are several charities, and also Wonkette-which-is-not-a-nonprofit-so don't-think-you're-getting-a-tax-deduction, who would be delighted to take it off your hands. Oh, Reverse Lady Macbeth, won't those hands feel clean!
My sainted Grandma Jeani, who made rag dolls for little girls all over the country and kept a box of prayers she wrote to the Blessed Mother every time the thread in her sewing machine ran out at just the right time — she was an easy one to "miracle"! — always felt bad that she got Social Security when she didn't need it, living in her little apartment in Shawnee, Oklahoma, after her son of a bitch husband died. She left each of her grandchildren $1000 that she saved from it. But she never said, "well I don't need it so there shouldn't be Social Security." And Social Security, as the progressive policy folks never tire of reminding us, needs to be universal, instead of means-tested, because that creates buy-in for everyone and skips the top-down class war resentments that are just as real as the bottom-up ones.
Republicans did not argue amongst themselves when they voted $1.7 trillion of our money to themselves and their benefactors. They did not bitch that it would not stimulate the economy, even though that was actually true, whereas sending $1.7 trillion to 45 million people means it actually gets spent. They did not worry that there would be class war resentment — and in fact, the exit polls (which we really should not believe until they're coupled with voter files anyway, but still) purport to show that increasing numbers of "working class" people did not give an iota of a flying fuck about the GOP's bald Reverse Robin Hood adventures, which did not help a single working class person and this would.
Elections Have Consequences
Democrats ran on eliminating student loan debt. They won. Give us some fucking money. The end.
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