By: Keith Kappes
Carter County Times
When then-candidate Joe Biden swiped the student loan forgiveness idea from fellow candidate Bernie Sanders in the 2020 presidential campaign, my first reaction was positive, but I doubted he could make it happen.
My skepticism was based on the fact that Sanders proposed during his 2016 campaign for the White House that he wanted to forgive $1.6 trillion in student debt and make college free to everyone.
That Sanders’ plan had no eligibility criteria and would have been available to the nation’s approximately 45 million student loan borrowers of both federal student loans and private student loans.
The senator from Vermont introduced a bill in Congress to make all of that happen but it never saw the light of day. The same fate befell most of the radical proposals from some Democrats calling themselves progressives while denying Republican assertions that they actually were products of socialist ideology.
But Biden stuck to his 2020 promise to help college graduates with heavy student loan debt get individual relief of at least $10,000 or $20,000 if they had received Pell grants based on financial need tied to family income.
Some of the more liberal Democrats in Congress lobbied the President to go as high as $50,000 in student loan forgiveness but he resisted and finally compromised on the $10,000 or $20,000 threshold.
Sen. Mitch McConnell and other Republicans claim they oppose the loan forgiveness program on grounds that it is unfair to those who have paid off their student loans and to those who worked and/or saved money to pay their college expenses without loans.
In my view, those reasons are a political smokescreen because the GOP realized too late that forgiving the loans of about 23 million borrowers of voting age can become a mighty potent campaign advantage for the Democrats this year in congressional elections and for the presidential race in 2024.
Who needs a chicken in every pot if you can wipe out ten or twenty grand of debt? Ain’t this a great country?
Contact Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org.