Don’t forgive $ 50,000 in student loan debt. It’s bad for Joe Biden, the Democrats, and America.

Some prominent Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Elizabeth Warren, are urging President Joe Biden to waive up to $ 50,000 on student loans by enacting an ordinance. This is a bad idea on so many levels that it is difficult to know where to start.

It should be indisputable to insist that American citizens over 18 are adults who are responsible for what they bought when they signed, as the line from “Glengarry Glen Ross” states, “on the Line that is dotted ”. Taking out a loan that you did not understand is not a scam, no matter how much you desire, and there is no compelling reason to make that debt go away with the flick of Biden’s pen.

But the credit-forgiving debate today is driven more by emotion than reason. For its proponents, helping people who seem to have been tricked into college loans is a humanitarian act and only wretched babblers would refuse. To opponents, it’s another example of decadent Americans who want to save taxpayers for their personal choices, a liberal boomer gift to their own grandchildren that no one will ever see again.

Giving student loans is bad policy

I realize this all sounds like a passionate request to young people to get off my lawn, but I’m neither a boomer nor a millennial or a Gen Xer. My small portion of the population born between 1958 and 1964 was too young for Buffalo Springfield and too old for Nirvana. I came from a working class family, the first to go to college, and spent years paying off student loans that were made at inflation-driven rates of nearly 14% in the late 1970s. I understand the impulse to take this financial millstone and just make it go away.

All of this makes for strong talking points, but maybe not in the way Democrats are hoping.

Instead, let’s talk about whether lending is good policy at a time when the Democratic Party holds a razor-sharp edge over the authoritarian political movement known as the modern Republican Party. There are three reasons the loan forgiveness scheme is causing the Democrats the most harm in the short term. These are cynical and nasty topics to debate, but they won’t go away until the next two election cycles.

Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts on February 21, 2006.

First, Republicans will portray this as an expensive giveaway that shows how much the Democrats care about college graduates and not about workers at all – and for once their rhetoric about the class struggle won’t be entirely wrong. The beneficiaries will be a select group of Americans.

In fact, the Republicans don’t miss a single trick. You will take up examples of atypical Americans, as described recently in an article in a New York magazine that was not helpful, to say the least, in the case of forgiveness. It featured a 40-year-old admitting that he moved to an expensive school to study film production, a 20-year-old whose $ 9,800 owed debt was preventing her breast reduction surgery option, and a gay couple – both full-time professionals with college degrees – who think they don’t have enough money to adopt a baby. (I am well aware of these costs; I am an adoptive father.)

Hard to sell: How the government can help people pay off student loans and be fair in doing so

If this is the case for compassion and social justice, these examples will not resonate with the uneducated working class, who are already constrained by other debts for which there is no magical relief such as medical bills and housing.

The Democrats could argue that minority students, and not middle-class whites, would benefit disproportionately from it because, as a group, they were more likely to bear student debt. But most of the beneficiaries would be college-educated whites, and at $ 50,000 per inhabitant, those would be students making some pretty expensive decisions. (The average student leaves college with more than $ 30,000 in debt.)

To his credit, Biden seems to understand this issue, and he has specifically stated that he cannot support a plan that results in the formation of the Ivy League being subsidized. Schumer and Warren seem determined, nonetheless, to go straight into that political buzz saw.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., At a news conference on student debt on February 4, 2021 in Washington, DC

Second, it’s a bad idea (in both politics and military strategy) to pay twice for the same victories. If the goal is to expand the democratic coalition, then it is the wrong way to reward a group already leaning towards the Democratic Party – voters with higher education – while shrugging their shoulders at people with serious illnesses and others inevitable problems go broke.

It is one thing to support the base; it is a different matter to alienate the Gettable voters in the process.

Third, the insistence that this be done by executive order – a habit both parties must break – without a major legislative reform regarding educational debt (which could include reforming bankruptcy law, removing interest rates, or even the failure of the thought, by making the colleges share responsibility.) a situation they helped shape) means that there is no other way to present this plan as anything other than a one-time takeover. Biden wisely preferred a legislative solution, but last week White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said the government is investigating the extent of the president’s legal powers on the matter.

Joe Biden should hold on

Democrats shouldn’t underestimate how a fiat urge to settle debt will create resentment in all directions – among people who didn’t go to college and have crippling debts of a different kind, those who left but made the decision without major ones Debt going among those who have paid off their debts and perhaps most worryingly among prospective voters who will never get the same offer.

Unless the plan calls for cyclical student debt bailouts, future generations will continue to struggle as they learn of the one golden day of Great Forgiveness given to middle-class Democrats and then vanished into the fog of history – and the Republicans will make sure that college students today will remember it for years.

We need reforms: I took out a student loan with my eyes open, but too many degrees aren’t worth the debt

College is too expensive for many reasons, but waving a benevolent hand and simply wiping out debt creates social antagonism, undermines the fundamental virtue of paying one’s debts, and perhaps in the short term affects the Democratic Party’s ability to defend control the government from the absolutely lying Republicans.

With all the troubles the United States faces in 2021, is student loan issuance worth the political capital that Democrats will have to spend to get it? Biden doesn’t seem to believe this and should hold on.

Tom Nichols, USA TODAY Board of Contributors, is the author of “Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault from Within on Modern Democracy”“Comes in August. Follow him on Twitter: @RadioFreeTom

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Making $ 50,000 in Student Loans Is a Bad Idea for Biden and America

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