Staring down the upcoming midterm elections and a summer of low approval ratings, President Biden tried to gain support at the polls by offering up a plan for student loan forgiveness. Almost immediately conservative commentators were up in arms over the decision. Some with more coherent complaints than others.
The more populist segments of the right called out the President’s plan for the fact that it puts the burdens of people with advanced degrees on the backs of average Americans. Derek Saul at Forbes explained this problem, stating “Despite the $125,000 income cap, research shows the White House plan still slightly favors higher-income Americans: Analysis of a $10,000 blanket relief program published Tuesday by the Penn Wharton Budget Model found 69.79% of overall debt forgiveness would go to the top 60% of Americans by income.” This means that tax dollars will move away from social programs that low-income Americans benefit from and that the inflation which is quietly devouring the pockets of the American middle-class will increase. All to placate the interests of a vocal minority of well-off voters.
Neo-Conservative factions found problems with the concept of bailing out privileged perpetual students for a problem that they themselves created. While I can’t completely disagree with the sentiment that people should be responsible for their actions, there are other things to consider. As a result of both cultural and economic factors, millennials have stagnated. Nicole Elinbinder at Insider clarifies this, stating: “Despite being better educated than previous generations, millennials are poorer, own less property, and have lower marriage rates and fewer children.” A prominent political commentator, Michael Knowles, recently made a similar but more culturally focused point when he drew attention to some 30-year-old using the phrase “adulting” to describe completing the most basic of tasks. It is important that we make some attempt to help a generation of people who have collapsed under the weight of living in the real world. Student loans are not the only factor causing this ugly inability to grow up, but giving Millenials some sort of kick start to a more serious existence is clearly needed.
Student loan forgiveness could become a legitimate point of policy for the right if it is organized in a way that cuts out the painful impreciseness of the plan offered up by the Biden administration and if it can act as a launching pad for other areas of their interest. Reforming the government loan program that created this problem in the first place and forcing colleges to foot the bill for failing to provide the product they promised works toward two problems that Republicans continually denounce. At one end it ensures that more Americans are not lulled into the useless degrees and philosophies on modern campuses. It also makes the institutions responsible for these problems pay for their fair share. This was the plan of Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, who has advocated for making colleges pay off student loans. Hawley has said, “It’s time to break up the higher education monopoly … [American students and workers] shouldn’t have to further enrich colleges by taking on a mountain of debt or mortgage their lives in order to get a good-paying job.” The right has to move away from the failed five bullet point thinking of the past and begin to capitalize on the opportunities coming out of a changing political sphere. To truly make the most of this moment Republicans must form consistent and calculated ideas to advance their cause.
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Cooper is an assistant editor of the common ground section and a sophomore. He studies political science and classics and wants to work in journalism after school. When he is not thinking about politics and writing he enjoys fishing, golfing, and reading. Cooper’s literary influences include Ring Lardner and Ernest Hemingway.