05 September 2022 – 12:00
“You can please some people all the time, you can please everyone once in a while, but you can’t please everyone all the time.” If there was ever a quote that sums up the public reaction to the elimination of student debt, it’s this gem from John Lydgate, an English monk who lived over 600 years ago.
At least half of those reading this column are probably thinking out loud, “Isn’t that a quote from Abraham Lincoln? Short answer: no. Although attributed to “Honest Abe” for at least 164 years…at best he stole it without giving the old monk credit. But since there is no evidence that Lincoln ever actually used it in speech or writing…I’ll just suggest, “You can please some people all the time…”. Well, you get my point.
On August 25, President Joseph R. Biden delivered on his campaign promise to provide student debt relief… to help 45 million people, including wiping out school debt for 20 million Americans.
Of course, this executive action isn’t as good or as fair to America as Biden’s 2021 $1.9 trillion U.S. bailout…which lifted 12 million Americans out of poverty. poverty and halving child poverty. The United States avoided a recession and despite Republican efforts to thwart that plan’s success by ending child tax credits… Biden’s plan is the most effective economic stimulus legislation in history. And his debt relief plan is equally bold and will help – not hurt – America.
Now the Republicans are back… stoking the fires of their favorite pastime… turning Americans against Americans. The whole issue of student debt is complex and begs the question…why has education become so expensive…and why haven’t politicians done anything about it?
Meanwhile, Republicans haven’t had an economic or stimulus plan that has worked well for Americans for a generation. As you may recall, Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was primarily a giveaway to the ultra-rich and corporations.
The rich are still licking their chops in anticipation of their biggest payoff under Trump’s plan – $61,090 in taxes in 2025 – for the top 1% of Americans. In comparison, households earning less than $91,700 save only $400 in 2025.
So, as we discuss the Republican outrage to help those burdened with student debt…realize that the 2017 Republican tax giveaway will cost taxpayers over $2 trillion after all. Biden’s student debt relief will cost an estimated $300 billion. Can you spell hipocrisy?
Borrowers are eligible for up to $20,000 in debt forgiveness for Pell Grant recipients with loans held by the Department of Education, and up to $10,000 in debt forgiveness for non-recipients of the Pell Grant, if their individual income is less than $125,000 ($250,000 for married couples). ).
Of course, the Republicans and their propaganda machines – Fox News, Breitbart, OAN, NewsMax and CBN – are busy covering the waters for millions. Tellingly, almost half – 48% – who trust these right-wing outlets also believe that “there is soon a storm that will sweep away the ruling elites and restore legitimate rulers.”
A right-wing friend tells an anecdote about how a husband-and-wife team of would-be doctors or lawyers can scam taxpayers out of $40,000 under Biden’s debt relief plan. Never mind that his assumptions — that the doctor or lawyer couples earn less than $250,000 and both got Pell Grant loans — could represent a tenth of one percent of those who get debt relief. Also, a reminder…most doctors and lawyers in America come primarily from wealthy families…not families earning less than $60,000, which is required of Pell Grant recipients.
It doesn’t matter, too, that living in places like New York, Brooklyn, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, or Honolulu means that a combined income of $250,000 puts a couple $100,000 below that. what it takes to live a middle-class lifestyle. . This combined income does not allow the couple to buy a house in these cities… or even pay the typical rent for an apartment of $4,000 per month.
Misleading information from the right – if true – could really point to gross injustice in student debt forgiveness. For example, my friend on the right is trying to convince people that those who get student debt relief are rich people…maybe they even go to private universities…all at taxpayer expense. Rare as hen’s teeth as my father used to say.
In fact, ninety percent of those who get debt relief earn less than $75,000. Right-wingers would like everyone to believe that it is the liberal elite too lazy to work and pay back the loans who benefits… people will wake up the private schools.
Millions of students came from low-income, blue-collar families who learned everything from truck driving and culinary arts to plumbing and electrical…as well as two-year college and four-year colleges. year.
More than 188,000 borrowers attended schools that participated in deceptive or illegal practices. Indeed, many – like the ITT Technical Institute, Corinthian Colleges, Court Reporting Institute, and Martinelli Schools of Beauty – are now bankrupt and no longer in business.
Some 323,000 totally and permanently disabled people no longer have to pay 5.8 billion dollars in debt for studies that they can no longer use. Additionally, the plan cancels loan balances after 10 years of payments — rather than 20 years — for borrowers with an original loan balance of $12,000 or less. This means that almost all community college borrowers will be free of school debt within 10 years.
In Canada, the average student debt is now $28,000 for a bachelor’s degree. Borrowers using the federal student financial aid program typically take between nine and 15 years to pay off their debts. As in the United States, debt cancellation comes up against the same ideological arguments here in Canada…the right hates it and the left loves it.
According to the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, a federal wealth tax of just 2% for the wealthiest Canadians could raise $363 billion in a decade. This would wipe out all of Canada’s student debt and create a publicly funded university system for all.
A college degree always means a better path to financial security…a 2019 Georgetown University study found that college graduates earn an average of $1 million more than high school graduates. Not everyone wants or needs a college degree…but if you do…it shouldn’t be as difficult as it is for young people today.
Back in the US, the best arguments for Biden’s plan are what didn’t happen…decades of political paralysis around fixing an education funding system…fee increases tuition and student loans. Things have changed since I graduated from the University of Florida in the 1970s…helped by a GI Bill that practically paid the $3,500 tuition for four years.
Today, a single college course at a top university can cost $4,000 or more. Tuition fees have tripled over the past 20 years. The Ministry of Education made a big mistake by outsourcing loans to private companies who often preyed on those who could least afford loans. People of color…women…are among the most disadvantaged of the past 50 years.
And these politicians – all Republicans and some Democrats in Republican states – could make their accusations of unfairness go away by offering those who have paid off their debts… a $10,000 or $20,000 tax credit. But Republicans — as they’ve shown with issues like health care — aren’t in charge of solving the problems of all Americans.
Canceling student debt is not an expensive band-aid or gift that ignores education reform. Student loan debt and education reform are two separate issues. Republicans and Democrats have had decades to work things out…and what they’ve done instead has made it easy for most college students to take on a mountain of debt.
Look, America bailed out the bankers – the perpetrators rather than the victims – when public policy made bad mortgages the norm just 14 years ago. Public policy should also right that wrong…reverse a policy that preys on the students and families who can least afford it. It is simply the right thing to do.
— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and Florida. In a career spanning more than 40 years, Don has been a journalist, speechwriter, and CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves writing as much as good dinners with great wines.
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