By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Jeff, a plumber from Waukesha, was blunt Thursday afternoon when asked about President Joe Biden’s college debt cancelation program.
“I think it’s a bunch of shit,” said Jeff, who declined to give his last name because he doesn’t want a “target on his back.”
“I have to pay back my car loan and my house loan. Why do I have to pay back their student loans?”
Jeff the plumber’s sentiments are shared by a lot of Americans who do not know why they’ll now be on the hook for hundreds of billions dollars in student loans they didn’t take out.
Biden calls it a “loan forgiveness” initiative for some 40 million Americans. For the vast majority of Americans who are picking up a $300 billion tab, it’s more like a debt transfer program.
Despite being constitutionally suspect, Biden’s executive action has been roundly criticized on the right as well as the left for giving $10,000 in debt relief to borrowers earning up to $125,00 a year. That’s a lot of “forgiveness” for people making well above the median household income of $67,500 a year — paid for by people who didn’t make the decision to get a costly college education.
It’s more spending in a spending-crazy federal government carrying $30.7 trillion in debt.
“President Biden is using the Covid ‘national emergency’ as his authority to continue reckless spending. His plan to shift the burden of college debt to all taxpayers accelerates inflation and does nothing to address the underlying issue of rising tuition costs,” said U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil (R-1st CD).
While the 44 million borrowers who owe a collective $1.7 trillion in federal student loan debt think Biden’s debt reduction plan is a sweetheart deal, a majority of Americans (59%) worry it will worsen historically high inflation, according to a new CNBC poll.
Gov. Tony Evers, a lifetime public employee and bureaucrat, isn’t worried. He’s more than happy to pass the check.
The Democrat took to Twitter Thursday, sharing his personal higher ed elitist story.
“In 1974, Kathy and I found out we were expecting. The night before I was to report to work at a local factory, my mom handed me a letter. ‘Congratulations,’ it said, because I’d been accepted into @UWMadison’s master’s program for education,” Gov. Tweedle Dee tweeted. “That letter changed my life.”
In 1974, Kathy and I found out we were expecting. The night before I was to report to work at a local factory, my mom handed me a letter. “Congratulations,” it said, because I’d been accepted into @UWMadison’s master’s program for education.
That letter changed my life. pic.twitter.com/SjsG03KH6j
— Governor Tony Evers (@GovEvers) August 24, 2022
Tuition was a little cheaper then, when Tony was matriculating.
“Under state law, Wisconsin residents must pay 25 per cent of the cost of their instruction. The yearly fees at Madison, for example, now vary from $573 for freshmen to $796 for juniors and seniors. (Out‐of‐state residents must pay four times as much,” notes a New York Times story from Dec. 1, 1974.
Granted, inflation puts those $796 1974 dollars at about $4,800 today, but a year of classes at UW-Madison these days will set the average (in-state) student back about $25,000 per year.
The New York Times story was headlined, “Tuition cut urged at U. of Wisconsin.”
“Rising fees and living expenses have combined to make low‐cost college education offered by these and other state universities less and less accessible to even relatively affluent middle‐class families, let alone families of the ‘industrial classes,’” the reporter wrote.
That was nearly 50 years ago.
The rapidly escalating cost of a college education has been a problem ever since, but this week marked the first time a president has taken the extra-executive branch step in cancelling student debt.
That’s just passing the buck — literally. Such debt “forgiveness” creates a bigger problem while failing to deal with the intrinsic problem.
“At the end of fiscal year 2020, the market value of the endowment funds of colleges and universities was $691 billion. Why the hell are we the taxpayers bailing out student loan borrowers when the colleges and universities could be doing something about costs?!?” Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker tweeted as Evers, his liberal successor, was tweeting support for Biden’s latest boondoggle.
At the end of fiscal year 2020, the market value of the endowment funds of colleges and universities was $691 billion. Why the hell are we the taxpayers bailing out student loan borrowers when the colleges and universities could be doing something about costs?!?
— Scott Walker (@ScottWalker) August 24, 2022
Evers second-in-command, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, is all in on the election-year bailout, too. Barnes, a Democrat running against U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson in November’s election, is tight with the liberal lawmakers and groups that say Biden’s proposal didn’t go far enough.
He “knows the (Biden) plan will help Wisconsinites but thinks it should have also included support for technical colleges,” Barnes’ campaign spokeswoman told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier this week in an article in which the far left candidate unsuccessfully attempts to distance himself from socialists like U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Evers insists such sweeping debt cancellation “will ensure millions of kids across our state and our country have a shot at education changing their lives, too,” just like him. That’s a massive oversell. Beyond the constitutional challenges it faces, Biden’s winners-and-losers debt relief program is a one-time deal. So, too bad to the Americans who have recently paid off their debt, or the future students who won’t get this limited-time offer.
Even President Barack Obama’s economists have been critical of the $300 billion buyout. They share Jeff the plumber’s opinion: It’s a bunch of shit.
“Pouring roughly half trillion dollars of gasoline on the inflationary fire that is already burning is reckless,” Jason Furman, the former chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, tweeted on Wednesday. “Doing it while going well beyond one campaign promise ($10K of student loan relief) and breaking another (all proposals paid for) is even worse.”