For someone like myself who has been involved with and analyzed the political arena, one can almost always conclude as to why an elected official has taken a political position. Most of the time it is to serve their perceived constituency for the purpose of maintaining the elected official’s lifespan in office. Supporting college loan relief makes no sense for nearly all elected officials. Yet many are pushing it anyway.
There are three discernible voter groups that have an interest in this issue’s outcome:
1. People who never attended college nor have their children. That is about 51% of Americans. They have zero interest in paying for the college loans of the other 49%. Let’s say there are about 210 million Americans over the age of 18 years old. That means 107 million in that category.
2. The other 49% have either a community college or four-year degree. Of that 43 million have student debt as of now.
3. That means the remainder is a group of 64 million Americans. These people either paid off their loan, paid their way through college or had it paid for. I fall into two categories. I paid my way through college and ponied up for my two children to obtain college degrees. There may be a few people here who like the idea of loan relief. From my experience, most say No Way Jose. Why would we pay for the debt of others who made the choice to incur it, while we managed to avoid? (Note: I had a $1,500 student loan that I paid off.)
By my calculations that is 81% of Americans (voters) who have little or no interest in relieving college loans just on pure economic terms. Even if you believe my numbers are off, or you believe that some of the people who have no interest in loan relief on economic terms but have sympathy for the issue, we can reasonably say that 75% of American voters don’t want this done.
I can point to the rationale for one elected official—Senator Elizabeth Warren. Warren worked as a college professor virtually her entire career until becoming a U.S. senator. Her last gig was Harvard. Harvard has an endowment that could and should cover the college tuition of every one of their attendees. Only 56% of students receive any kind of financial aid. Apparently, 49% receive a free ride. But, as I said, the endowment could and should cover 100%.
Working where she worked there were many colleges nestled in a small area. It is a major constituency of Ms. Warren’s. Also, to my perception, Ms. Warren has never met a government-paid program she didn’t want.
Certainly, there are many members of the Democrat caucus in both the House and the Senate who have political interests akin to Ms. Warren’s. Uncle Bernie in the Senate comes to mind. The Squad in the House would be other politicians who are ideologically inclined to support handing out free money. Some people reading this column would say a lot of members of Congress these days are inclined to hand out free money. But most of those giveaways went to a much broader base of the population.
Another bafflement of student loan relief comes from the fact that the constituency is populated with high earners or people on their way to becoming high earners. The earning for someone with a bachelor’s degree is twice that of someone with a high school diploma.
Then why would Uncle Joe even be contemplating this? He says he is a moderate and that he is a supporter of the working man. Student loan relief does not fit the bill in either regard. President Biden has stayed away from any loan relief, but it is still being floated. Biden extended the nonpayment rule for another six months, making the extension for loan payment deferral to two years. No one asked if any of the debtors were out of work or unable to pay at this point. The economy is back at the level it was before the pandemic, and you can bet almost all the student loan debtors are perfectly capable of making their monthly payments.
The 81% of Americans who have no vested interest student loan relief need to make their thoughts loud and clear to their elected officials and our President that loan relief is not an option. It is bad public policy on so many levels. But, as defined here, it makes no political sense either.