Dick Wadhams, Higher Education, Politics, U.S. Congress, Uncategorized

Wadhams: Cancelling student loan debt unfair and irresponsible

Of all the failed policies of President Joe Biden and his Democratic Socialist enablers, allowing people to walk away from their student loan debts is perhaps the most disturbing.

The irresponsible fiscal policies pushed by elected Democrats have given us historically high inflation that punishes hardworking families with dramatically increasing prices on gasoline and groceries. Their coddling of criminals has resulted in explosive crime across the nation. Their open borders policy has created a human tragedy and threatens our national security.

But none of these glaring failures are as fundamentally offensive, irresponsible and insulting to taxpayers as the Biden-Democratic Socialist proposal to cancel student debts.

This is a terribly personal issue for me and for millions of Americans who worked their way through college without going into debt or who have dutifully paid off or are paying off their student loan debt.  Why should hundreds of millions of Americans who did not go to college at all be forced to pay off the student loan debts of those who think they should not be held responsible for their decisions to get the loans?

Of course, the cost of a college degree, even from state institutions, has grown exponentially over time, but that doesn’t change the fact that some students worked two jobs and lived in poverty conditions to incur less debt, while others likely used loans to subsidize posh apartments and didn’t work a day during the school year.

I was born and raised in rural southeastern Colorado in Bent County which is now one of the poorest counties in the state. I grew up on a farm where I stacked hay, cultivated sugar beets, and irrigated crops. I earned money from raising hogs that I later used to help pay for college.

In the late summer, I also helped our neighbors pick their very perishable cantaloupe and watermelon crops. I worked side by side with migrant workers, many of whom were seasonal workers from Mexico. My respect for the people who do this backbreaking work as a way of life is immeasurable.

During my first three years of college, I worked for a funeral home company and finished my senior year at the then-University of Southern Colorado (now Colorado State University-Pueblo) running the office of U.S. Senator Bill Armstrong in Pueblo.

I appreciate and value my political science degree from then-USC where I had the privilege of studying under the legendary Democratic strategist and lobbyist, Wally Stealey, and other outstanding instructors. I earned my degree without relying on my parents nor did I go into debt with student loans. I ultimately owed no one anything.

I do not begrudge anyone whose college educations were paid for by their family whether they were wealthy parents who could easily afford it or hardworking middle-class parents who dutifully saved for their children’s college educations. Nor do I begrudge those who sought student loans to pay for college.

But there is a fundamental principle at stake when the federal government decides to allow people who applied for government student loans with the understanding they would pay those loans back to the government and ultimately to the taxpayers, to walk away from that responsibility.

Where would such a senseless and irresponsible policy stop? Why should anyone with a Small Business Administration loan or any other government loan pay it back? Why would any future applicants for student loans think they will ultimately have to repay the government? Why not wait until Democratic Socialists like U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts or Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez of New York intervene again and allow people to walk away from those debts leaving taxpayers once again holding the bag?

I rarely quote the liberal New York Times editorial page but on this issue, they were largely right in their May 15, 2022, editorial entitled, “Student debt is crushing. Canceling it is still bad policy.”

The editorial said “Canceling this debt, even in the limited amounts that the White House is considering, would set a bad precedent and do nothing to change the fact that future students will graduate with yet more debt–along with the blind hope of another, future amnesty. Such a move is legally dubious, economically unsound, politically fraught and educationally problematic.”

President Biden is in a political corner after making a very cynical and irresponsible commitment to Warren and Ocasio Cortez to eliminate student loan debt in order to be in a stronger position in the 2022 mid-term election.  And while this might entice some younger voters to support Democrats in November, I believe a much larger number of voters, young and old, will push back against this disgustingly unfair policy.

Some universities and colleges, both public and private, both non-profit and for-profit, have certainly exploited the federal student loan program with exorbitant tuition increases and questionable degree programs. They need to be held accountable as well but that does not excuse individuals who now want to be bailed out from their student loans.

Voters who did not go to college but who have worked hard their entire lives are tired of seeing self-entitled individuals who think others are obligated to bail them out for their decisions.  Canceling student loan debt is just wrong and unfair.

Dick Wadhams is a GOP political consultant and a former Colorado Republican state chairman.


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