Ross: Should Biden cancel student-loan debt?

May 2, 2022, 7:31 AM | Updated: May 4, 2022, 6:25 am
U.S. President Joe Biden walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House (Getty Images)...
U.S. President Joe Biden walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Full disclosure, I’m a Boomer who graduated with no debt back in the day when middle-class parents could afford tuition, and when working at a radio station and writing a newspaper column – based on the assignments in my creative writing class – could pay for room and board.

So I am not going to scold millennials who are buried in debt. I don’t think anyone borrows for college just to rip off the government because there are easier ways to rip off the government than four years of homework and Powerpoint lectures.

However, there is evidence that some colleges started ripping off students to take advantage of the federal student loan program.

Once upon a time, it was so bad that the Education Department had to disqualify colleges that practiced predatory recruiting, had high rates of loan defaults, or conducted all their classes online.

But in 2018, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos removed those regulations – something about the government having no business regulating the free market – and soon more students were graduating into a job that could never pay off their loans.

The Brookings Institution found that, while for-profit colleges only enroll 10 percent of students, they accounted for HALF of all student loan defaults.

So here we are – with millions of students who borrowed money to learn stuff no employer wants to pay for. And who, we’re told, are angry enough to abandon the Democrats in November unless Biden cancels a meaningful amount of their debt.

But here’s the problem: it turns out a lot of that debt is also owed by well-off families whose kids decided to spend a lot of money on traditional colleges and graduate school. And being that the Democrats are all about social justice, forgiving that would look pretty bad. At the same time, you have Republicans warning that wholesale debt forgiveness would add to inflation.

So Biden seems to be considering forgiving about $10,000 – enough to make a big difference for poor families, but probably way too low to excite the young middle-class voters the Democrats will need in November.

I have two thoughts on that.

Young voters already have a pretty miserable voting record. Even in high turnout states like ours, about half still don’t vote. So, for young, indebted voters to show their anger by boycotting the November election wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Which leads me to my second thought.

If a Biden administration with a Democratic Congress is having trouble forgiving student debt – how much student debt do you think will be forgiven once Republicans are running that congress?

Hint– it doesn’t take a college degree to figure that one out.

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Ross: Should Biden cancel student-loan debt?