Debt Forgiveness May Turn Good Choices Into 'Sucker's Bet'

Two columnists worry about the fairness of wiping out student loans
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 6, 2022 12:30 PM CDT
Debt Forgiveness May Turn Good Choices Into 'Sucker's Bet'
   (Getty/Mark Chilton)

(Newser) – Progressives are pushing President Biden to make a dramatic move to wipe out a large chunk of student debt before the midterms. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, for example, wants the president to use his executive authority to cancel $50,000 in debt per person, which she argues would eliminate the loans of 36 million, or 84%, of borrowers, per CBS News. Biden himself has voiced approval of relief on a smaller scale, and two new op-eds are weighing in:

  • Keep it focused: In the New York Times, David Brooks writes that he has long opposed debt relief because he feared it would mostly benefit rich families. However, the changing demographics of college has altered things. Brooks now favors relief, but he thinks Warren's plan is too broad and wants relief focused on the most needy. He'd like Biden to forgive $20,000 per person, but he wants the president to "limit the forgiveness to precarity grads—perhaps to those from families making less than $75,000, perhaps to those who already received Pell grants."

  • Fairness? In the Washington Post, Matt Bai worries about the fairness toward grads who worked for years to pay off loans or perhaps chose lesser schools to avoid a big debt. And what about parents who put money toward a college fund instead of a 401K? "What are we telling those families, if Democrats declare a one-time debt holiday in time for the fall elections? That all their hard choices amounted to a sucker’s bet?" Still, he adds, "most of us would probably support a program that knocked off a modest amount of debt for only the lowest earners." Or perhaps for those who went into public service after graduation.
(Read more student debt stories.)

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