By Debra J. Saunders / syndicated columnist
There was a time in America, more than a decade ago, when horror stories of six-figure student debt racked up by graduates with faint prospects and no idea how they’d repay the money led to a rethinking about the cost of higher education.
The average student debt at the time was $23,000.
President Barack Obama launched a program, “Know Before You Owe” to educate teens and parents about student debt.
In a bid to make college more affordable, Obama also signed a bill that reduced student loan repayments to 10 percent of borrowers’ income and forgave remaining balances after 20 years of payments; 10 years for those who qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
But of course, that is not enough. It never is.
Now President Biden plans to shift more of the payment burden from borrowers who took out student loans of their own free will and onto taxpayers who have no choice.
On Jan. 1, the Biden administration plans to cancel $10,000 of a student’s debt; $20,000 for those who received Pell Grants, awarded to lower-income students.
Most taxpayers didn’t graduate college, but in Joe Biden’s America, they’ll get to pay for it.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost of the loan forgiveness plan to be $400 billion, but the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget sees a cost of “roughly $500 billion” over the next 10 years.
Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that critics oppose the Biden package “because they know it will provide much needed” relief for “working families.”
Wrong. I don’t like it because Biden is gaming covid so that he can give away other people’s money in a craven play for the youth vote. I also happen to be one of those chumps who paid off her student loan.
Adam Looney of the Brookings Institution warned that “under the new plan, loans will be the preferred option for most students, and by a wide margin. Get 50 percent off the cost of college! But only if you pay with a federal loan, because you don’t have to pay it all back.”
Note that the president delayed announcing the bonanza until close to the midterms.
The administration claims that the scheme is legal because of covid, a “national emergency.” That’s hard to believe given that Biden himself recently said the pandemic is “over.”
America is back at work. The unemployment rate for August was 3.7 percent.
The Pacific Legal Foundation has filed a suit challenging the program as a “flagrantly illegal” exercise in executive overreach.
Biden may be president, but the Constitution didn’t give him a blank check.
Debra J. Saunders is a fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Chapman Center for Citizen Leadership. Contact her at email@example.com.