While the rest of us are arguing about Sgt. Bergdahl, President Obama is sneaking through another presidential decree.
This one has to do with student loan forgiveness — a nice little gift to a constituency that the president wants to turn out on election day next November.
U.S. President Barack Obama will move tomorrow to ease monthly payments for people with student loans, according to a White House official.
Obama, in executive action coordinated with a legislative push by Senate Democrats, will direct the Department of Education to expand the number of people who can take advantage of a law capping payments on federal direct loans to no more than 10 percent of their monthly incomes.
“I’ve heard from too many young people who are frustrated that they’ve done everything they were supposed to do — and now they’re paying the price,” Obama said yesterday in his weekly address.
What price are they paying? The price of of being dumb enough to take on enormous amounts of debt before they even have a job? Or are they paying a price for majoring in bowling management or puppetry and thinking they will get a job that will allow them to pay off that debt?
The action marks the latest effort by Obama’s administration to advance policies by executive action after being stymied on Capitol Hill. With the help of several cabinet heads, the president has spent much of this year initiating modest changes in programs that may provide a boost to Democrats in advance of the midterm elections.
Obama’s action tomorrow will expand a 2010 law that tied payments to income, according to the White House official, who said an additional 5 million people who took out loans before October 2007 or haven’t borrowed since 2011 will be eligible.
The proposal aligns with a bill from Senate Democrats that would allow individuals to refinance their student loan debt at current rates. Democrats have argued that the $1.2 trillion worth of outstanding student-loan debt retards economic growth as young college graduates are forced to postpone home buying or other purchases.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat and sponsor of the bill, called student-loan debt levels “truly an emergency circumstance.”
Republicans have opposed the proposal, which would be paid for through tax increases on wealthy individuals, and are likely to block its passage.
“This bill doesn’t make college more affordable, reduce the amount of money students will have to borrow, or do anything about the lack of jobs grads face in the Obama economy,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said in a statement.
In a preview of the political message Democrats will advance this week, Obama said in his weekly address that lawmakers will have to choose whether to “protect you from crushing debt, or protect tax breaks for millionaires.”
The president and the Democrats are acting as if college kids who took out huge loans are victims. No doubt millennials love to hear that. Anything is better than admitting to yourself that you’re an idiot to get yourself into a situation where you can’t pay back what you owe.
The way to protect yourself from crushing debt is not to take on more debt than you can reasonably expect to pay back. This is what the grown-ups do — or some of us, anyway. How many student loan scofflaws actually had a good notion of what their salary would be the first few years after they graduated before they took out a loan? Apparently, not enough.
Certainly the lack of good-paying jobs is part of the problem. But it would help matters greatly if more students who wanted to go to college figured out a way to pay for it without taking on massive amounts of debt. Is there a law that says you have to start college at age 18? Why not work for three or four years, start a little later, and take on less debt? This was not an uncommon option before government got into the student loan business.
Anything is better than the system we have now.