by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
[Y]oung people, after drawing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the public purse in student loans, have demanded that not a cent be paid back. It has been the rallying cry of progressives that the Biden administration simply “cancel student debt.” What they mean is, “Mr. President, please wipe $1.747 Trillion off the taxpayer’s balance sheet with the stroke of a pen.”
Biden, though deficient in many respects, is smart enough to know cancellation will equal devastation for the public finances. The real question, however, is not whether student-debt relief will be devastating (it will), but whether it’s really necessary. For those with genuine financial distress, longstanding loan-forgiveness and discharge programs already exist. Unemployed college graduates — they have a measly 2 percent unemployment rate — need no such privilege. After all, America’s job market has exploded since Covid ended. There are now more jobs than workers willing to take them. I am a recent college graduate who found employment; youth should know that anyone can do it. In fact, workers are being bid on by employers in competition for talent. If that’s the experience of blue-collar workers, college graduates should find employment a piece of cake. On student loans, Biden would be right to let them eat cake.
Yet Biden has prevaricated. On April 6 (five days too late), his administration announced it would extend the pause on repayment to August 31. Now, the indebted could spend a whole summer splurging like there’s no tomorrow, only to find an exorbitant bill as that day dawns upon them. The decision, however, is not meant to give them a comeuppance, and may be extended again until after November’s midterms, when Democrats may take youth votes and, thereafter, cease their promised forgiveness. Like students, politicians don’t pay their debts, either.