NOTICE | EDITO: Stuck in reimbursement?

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They say the tongue is the little round apex of debate, and whoever holds it holds the upper hand. The other side just walks in shrapnel. That’s why abortion rights organizations long ago started using Pro Choice, and abortion opponents chose Pro Life. When you can get people to talk your way, maybe you can get them to think your way.

This week’s story about the Biden administration’s plan to reduce, if not eliminate, student loan debt was interesting. Perhaps that’s why our editors chose it for the front page. They know what is what.

Congressional Democrats have told newspapers they hope President Biden keeps his promises to at least cut student loans because — note the wording here — the law unfairly leaves too many borrowers stuck in repayment.

Stuck in repayment. Well, we wonder how many homeowners are stuck paying off all those mortgages they took out years ago. Or the automobile owner who always makes car payments to the bank. As if they had taken out a loan for a prized possession and signed documents to repay the money as promised.

The administration has already offered to forgive certain loans in the event of fraud or permanent incapacity of the student. But the big idea being talked about includes “cancellation” of debt, another word that needs scary quotes.

For if the trillion dollars in debt that students and alumni now owe is taken from them, it will be put on the national credit card. And all taxpayers would be liable in the form of a higher national debt.

It’s not even progressive, in the modern usage of the word. Because former middle-class students, and not just middle-class ones, would pass their college bills to all other Americans, many of whom would not get the financial benefits of a college degree.

The newspapers say that the main political parties are fighting over this or that proposal. Progressives want more debt forgiven, either by executive order or through Congress. And others in Congress argue that schools with high default rates should be required to pay back some of the money. There are as many ideas about college debt as there are U.S. Representatives and Senators. Maybe more.

And while we understand that the government must guarantee these loans in many cases, and that fraud occurs even in universities, and that We the people will often take financial burdens off those who cannot make ends meet. For a number of reasons, there’s still the idea – no matter how old-fashioned – that people should be responsible for their promises. Including promises to repay loans.

For example, why do so many people think these loan repayments should be capped and based on a former student’s annual salary? Ain’t the bass ackwards? The guy who sells you the house or the car may ask you before taking out the loan how much you earn, but he won’t give you the keys and ask you later how much you can pay.

It also won’t tell you that you only have to pay your mortgage for 20 years, and the loan will be forgiven after that, no matter how much you still owe. It is only when the government lends money that this is an option.

And, one wonders, not without reason, how many current students are borrowing the maximum amount, hoping that the progressives will one day take it to Congress and relieve them of their promise to repay?

There you have it, Mr Pointy-Headed Columnist. You have no heart.

Well, someone should speak on behalf of the taxpayers who will end up paying these bills. And there is more to be said about keeping to one’s own promises. Previous generations knew about obligation, especially when it came to loans. And did their best to make wise choices about what they needed and how much they would be willing to pay for it in the future. What is the current generation learning about duty and responsibility? And what will the next generation learn from them?

And speaking of the previous generation—specifically, the previous generation of student borrowers—is the government going to pay them back all the loans they have repaid?

If you think that’s a dumb idea, and that no one would demand such a thing from the US government, you haven’t been paying attention. And if some people in Congress thought that would buy a vote, you can imagine the idea might end up in the headlines.

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