Dem President Coming Close to Implementing Policy to Benefit Mostly Upper-Middle-Class, Mostly White, Mostly Urban Voters
[guest post by JVW]
Because Joe Biden seems to have determined to be President of woke Twitter rather than President of the United States of America, he appears to be inching closer to planting — via an Executive Order of dubious merit — a big fat wet kiss on the mouths of what seems to be left of his ever-dwindling base of support. Michael Brenden Dougherty at NRO has the details:
The plan being mulled by the Biden administration to cancel and forgive up to $1.6 trillion of federal student-loan debt is a brazen act of class warfare by the affluent against everyone else. It is a politically, and cosmically, unjustifiable robbery that offers yet more rope for the decadent and totally indefensible American college system to become even more decadent and indefensible.
The overwhelming majority of student debt is held by the affluent; less than 10 percent of it is held by the bottom third of earners. Nearly 40 percent of it is held by students who earned advanced degrees — many of them now doctors and lawyers. Unemployment for the college-educated is less than 2 percent.
Sounds like a great group of people upon whom to bestow the equivalent of 27.5% of the 2023 Federal Budget, doesn’t it? What is it that Democrats always yammer on about in terms of which party panders to the wealthy? Mr. Dougherty puts his finger on what is wrong with this incredibly annoying scheme:
At every level, the American college system is deranged by the government guarantees and preferment extended to student debt. At the lowest end, schools take advantage of government-guaranteed student loans to prey on service-sector workers. They market a college education as a path of upward mobility, while knowing that most of their students never graduate, or simply return to the service industry after graduation. All that these colleges do is load five-figure-earning students with debt, which is transformed into six-figure salaries for third-rate professors and administrators.
In the great middle tier, the oceans of student debt have inspired colleges to become luxury resorts for the youth. They build endless recreational and athletic facilities, they install baroque food courts in an appalling race to offer something first-rate. These schools are increasingly trying to insert themselves as gatekeepers into fields such as turf management and catering, which never required college education before.
Granted, there are reports that President Biden is only considering cancelling $10,000 of debt for each student. Given that there are apparently 45.4 million Americans who collectively hold $1.75 trillion in student debt, if we assume that some of them will have less than $10,000 in debt and thus not account for the full sum we’re still looking at perhaps $350-400 billion in debt forgiveness. Chuck Schumer is said to be angling for up to $50,000 in debt forgiveness per borrower which would bring us much closer to the full sum, though that might just be a huge pander to the indebted college graduate left secure in the knowledge that it will never happen. But that doesn’t mean that the Elizabeth Warrens and Alexandria Ocasio Cortezes of the party don’t fundamentally believe that the entire sum should be wiped out.
All with the stroke of a pen, bypassing Congressional authorization if necessary.
Enough of that nonsense, declares Charles C. W. Cooke, if the President unilaterally imposes this plan the GOP needs to hang it like a millstone around his neck:
If President Joe Biden follows through on his threat to unilaterally “cancel” all, or any, of the $1.7 trillion in federally held student-loan debt, the Republican Party must respond to the move by taking an industrial-grade flamethrower to the status quo until it is reduced to ashes. What Biden is considering would be an act of political, economic, and constitutional warfare, and Republicans at both the federal and state levels would be obliged to immediately treat it as such by salting the earth as soon as they possibly can.
Second, a GOP-led Washington, D.C., would have to get the Treasury to recoup the “forgiven” loans so that non-graduates — a majority of Americans — didn’t end up paying for the commercial products that graduates freely chose to buy. There are many potential sources for that money, including the beneficiaries themselves. Tax them. Tax the universities they went to; tax the enormous endowments those universities enjoy; tax as income any gifts those universities are given, however small; and, where possible, remove the nonprofit status of donations so that those who give gain no fiscal advantage. When all that is done, sue the worst offenders for fraud. [. . .]
Third, the federal GOP would have to tie up the move in litigation in every way possible. Neither the American constitutional system nor any of the statutes that Congress has placed on the books give the executive branch the power to single-handedly spend $1.5 trillion of taxpayers’ money in this way. The Department of Education has already confirmed that the president “does not have statutory authority to provide blanket or mass cancellation, compromise, discharge, or forgiveness of student loan principal balances, and/or to materially modify the repayment amounts or terms thereof,” and nothing has changed since that declaration. [. . .]
Just so, and the threat of litigation (culminating in what I expect would be a likely defeat in court for the Administration) ought to have made Team Biden far more circumspect about these sort of grandiose promises. Do Democrats think it’s a winning electoral strategy to promise young, white, urban, graduate-degree holders a very tangible benefit that notably is not given to their blue-collar colleagues who may have incurred a great deal of debt in starting up a business or in apprenticing at a trade? And whose bright idea in the Administration was it to put Democrats in a position where the President makes a promise which is sure to enrage his political opponents while pissing off a good chunk of the voters he desperately needs to hold on to this fall? His Executive Order, should it come, almost certainly will either be rightfully blocked by the courts on Constitutional grounds or else will be blocked by Congress when skittish Democrat incumbents start to worry about defending this move on the campaign trail. The degree to which the party brain trust is allowing Biden — a man whose intellectual capacities are so clearly diminishing day by day — to hang himself out to dry on this issue is just absolutely puzzling.
Beyond a couple of socialist students writing at The Nation, it’s hard to find too many media commentators willing to go out on a limb and declare that this is good policy. The aforementioned lefty college scribes overlook the obviousness of wealthier whites being the prime beneficiaries and focus instead upon the handful of “Black [sic] and brown” folks who would be helped by debt forgiveness, then raise the childishly Sandersesque notion that the plan will unlock great economic activity by leaving the beneficiaries with more money to spend on Michael Moore movies, Noam Chomsky books, and Pete Seeger records. And, as evidenced by the comments on the piece, at least one reader of The Nation isn’t too sure this is such a snappy idea, though he is immediately brow-beaten by two bullying leftists for his apostasy.
No matter which way this plays out, expect the Democrats to handle this about as badly as they possibly can, and expect a sizable chunk of the GOP to bungle the opposition messaging by bringing in spurious arguments. But I don’t see much chance of this ending up as a net positive for the Democrat efforts this fall, even if the Biden Administration decides this is the right hill upon which to die. (Hmmm, probably not a great metaphor given the President’s advancing age and obvious infirmities.)