Biden gets an ‘F’ on student debt idea


Biden gets an ‘F’ on student debt idea

My roots are blue. Not the political blue of the current climate. blue collar blue. My maternal grandfather had a third grade education and spent nearly three decades picking up trash for the city of Philadelphia. None of my four grandparents went to college and only one graduated from high school. My mother was the first in her family to graduate from high school.

And then there was my father. He excelled in high school, so they knew he had a brain. But Teddy had no money, so he went into the military for a few years, cooling his heels (literally) at a NORAD post in Greenland. When he got home, he used the money from the GI Bill as well as the money from the many jobs he juggled to get an undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland. He never asked for help beyond what the government owed because of his military service. If he had, he would have made sure to repay everything that had been lent to him, with interest.

I was thinking of my father and my grandparents when I heard about President Biden’s recently announced Expanding Inflation Act. You may know it by its official name, Student Loan Debt Cancellation. But when you look at the details, it basically becomes a wealth transfer formula where middle and low income families will foot the extra bill for students who don’t meet their financial obligations.

When I posted on social media that no one’s debt should be forgiven until everyone who’s actually paid off their student loans is cured (I called it “Non-Crogue Repairs”), a big part of the answer was positive. Apparently, many of us are fed up with what seems like a reward for avoiding responsibility. Others vehemently disagreed and blamed predatory lenders and colleges with their inflated endowments.

And to be fair, they are all responsible for the mess. But it’s completely naïve to excuse those students who voluntarily and transparently signed up for the loans. They or their parents were fully aware of the consequences of the agreement, and no one forced them to sign on the dotted line. Anyone suggesting he’s been put in an untenable position has no idea what that looks like. My father did. Many other fathers, mothers and grandparents have done it too.

I am no economist, but those I have spoken to are convinced that the program is both too much and too little. It will transfer billions of dollars in debt forgiveness to middle-class taxpayers while insignificantly reducing debt for most American students. We hurt the many, to (barely) help a few.

And while I’m a lawyer and know a bit about the constitutionality of executive orders in the context of immigration, I’m not going to predict the legality of this decision. It will be up to the courts to decide whether Biden overstepped his executive authority.

What angers me is the absolute immorality of telling a bunch of people they can keep something they haven’t paid for. Unlike bankruptcy where you usually lose property you can’t afford, no one can take that degree away from you.

Another thing that really angers me about this whole program is that it does next to nothing to encourage young people to enter the trades, honorable professions that are overlooked by high school counselors and the general public. If we’re going to fund education, I’d rather fund a future carpenter than contribute to the brain massage of an eco-food student.

My father and people like him took their obligations seriously. They were not victims and did not complain about rights. Biden, who comes from my father’s generation and claims to be like him, ignores the singular American virtue that has characterized this group: responsibility.

To paraphrase someone important: “What’s the use of a president winning votes but losing his soul?”

Copyright 2022 Christine Flowers, distributed exclusively by the Cagle Cartoons Newspaper Syndicate. Flowers is a lawyer and columnist and can be reached at


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