Forgiving student loan debt will be one of Joe Biden’s priorities when he takes office in January and Senator Elizabeth Warren says that the government has a “moral obligation” to dig individuals out of a debt hole they dug for themselves.
There may be compelling economic reasons to cancel hundreds of billions of dollars in student loan debt. Warren mentions that it will help with the economic recovery. That’s a perfectly legitimate reason.
So why make it a “moral” issue? Why portray people who might have an opposing view on canceling debt as “immoral”?
“If we don’t take action, the pandemic, and the recession will make it even harder for borrowers who were already barely treading water. The way I see it, we have a responsibility and a moral obligation to act,” Warren said during a virtual summit convened by the Student Borrower Protection Center, a nonprofit that advocates for student debtors.
“We owe it to our fellow Americans to address this crisis head on. We need to broadly cancel student loan debt and put those monthly payments back into our economy, canceling student loan debt as soon as possible,” she said.
We owe some of our fellow Americans — perhaps. But what do we owe the many millions more of our fellow Americans who went to college and didn’t take out any loans? They got a job — or two — and worked for that degree. How do we pay them back?
Warren and other supporters of broad-based student loan forgiveness say it would be an easy and effective way to pour billions of dollars back into the economy as stimulus. They also argue that it would be a major step toward closing the racial wealth gap due to the higher rates of student loan delinquency among Black and Hispanic Americans.
“With the stroke of a pen, the Biden-Harris administration can start putting those monthly payments right back into local communities and help build Black and brown wealth,” she said.
And what of the suckers who did it the right way — working and paying off their tuition and fees as they went? I guess they aren’t black or brown enough for Warren and don’t deserve to have their wealth built.
Biden, however, has been unwilling to go that far. The president-elect has instead proposed forgiving $10,000 per borrower and through a broader legislative proposal meant to make education more affordable, not by the executive action sought by progressives.
Radicals like Warren can ignore the issues and make this a question of race. The rest of us want to make it an issue of fairness. It’s not fair that some decided to work their way through school and are being made to look like fools because they didn’t burden themselves with debt they couldn’t possibly pay off.
Biden is trying to split the difference and it won’t work. Maybe in the next pandemic relief package considered by Congress, they can forgive some student debt and pay other students who didn’t take out loans? Not even recognizing them is a travesty.
We have a moral obligation to do so.