As a general rule of thumb, if you pursue controversial lawmaking to shore up support ahead of an election, don’t alienate everyone in the process. The core of support behind Joe Biden’s bid to cancel $10-20,000 in student loan debt per holder does precisely that. It’s a pure play for approval ahead of an election while alienating all voters.
A defensive White House.
The Official White House Twitter account spent Thursday attacking critics of the student loan forgiveness plan. Suppose you criticized student loan forgiveness but took PPP loans during the COVID-19 pandemic. In that case, the White House wants everyone to believe you’re a hypocrite.
Equating a global pandemic where the federal government forced businesses to shut down, and agreed to pay out loans to prevent job losses, is nothing remotely close to taking on debt to pay for a degree. Apples and oranges have more in common than those two items. The White House knows this, but they remain petty and defensive about their plan.
A White House that was confident it was pursuing a good policy that would win support ahead of the elections wouldn’t feel the need to strike out at every detractor on Twitter. This desperate administration operates on fearful political whims, not grounded policy-making.
As I wrote in February and July, forgiving student loans is something the Biden administration believes it has no choice but to do but is also convinced it is a loser. Democrats don’t want to hold a vote about it in Congress. Congressional Democrats have resorted to “petitioning” Biden to solve this issue because they fear any vote on the topic.
The crowd non-pleaser.
The Biden administration’s plan is astonishing because it pleases zero people. On the left, people correctly point out that $10,000 – $20,000 is a drop in the bucket of overall debt. The more immense debt burdens are a heavy weight, pushed to ever higher heights by an unresponsive yet growing academic bureaucracy.
The Washington Post Editorial Board’s editorial on the entire matter was headlined: “Biden’s student loan announcement is a regressive, expensive mistake.” In a separate editorial, Catherine Rampell wrote in the Post, “Democrats have adopted a left-wing version of trickle-down economics — apparently believing that the only way to help the needy is to also give money to the rich.”
It should go without saying, but if you’re a Democrat and you’ve lost the Washington Post, you’ve truly wandered off into the left field. Only the most partisan hacks on the left greet this new policy with applause and glee.
Conservatives aren’t any happier. They have correctly pointed out this is a bailout of sorts from the blue-collar class to the white-collar class. If you didn’t attend college, your tax dollars are paying for the degrees at universities you never attended. If you don’t understand why this fundamentally angers people, then maybe you’re just new to politics.
It fixes nothing.
Democrats enjoy railing about the rich not paying enough in taxes. Now, they’re pushing Biden to force the working class to pay for the college degrees of the Zoom class.
In a barn-burner essay for National Review, Charles C. W. Cooke dismantled the entire argument:
As President Biden made clear today, this is a one-time deal, a lottery, a lightning strike. People who paid off their loans last week aren’t covered. People who will take out new loans after the policy has run its course aren’t covered. The problems in the system aren’t addressed. The colleges, and their endowments, are left unmolested. American culture’s increasingly credentialist presumptions aren’t altered. Within four years, overall debt will return to its present level. With the stroke of a pen, the already-fake deficit savings within the Inflation Reduction Act will be wiped out. This isn’t a reform. It’s not even pretending to be reform. It’s a contemptuous, abusive, unbelievably expensive shot in the dark…
The people who will most benefit will be the young staffers in the White House, who are likely running the Twitter account. They’re the ones in debt while working for a President who doesn’t have the slightest clue how to fix an administration adrift.
No one is pleased or helped.
The Biden administration managed to choose the path through student loans that angers everyone. It’s a true masterclass in bad politics and, even worse policy-making. Restarting payments or forgiving all loans were the two options held by the opposing sides.
If Biden had chosen to restart payments without forgiveness or just canceled all debt, he could at least claim to have won support from one side of the aisle. With this policy, he’s managed to anger everyone while receiving all the hate and blame.
No one ever accused Biden of being a brilliant statesman. But at this stage, it’s becoming clear why he never climbed that far as a Senator and why the Obama White House kept him hidden away. Biden has managed to find every rake to step on as hard as possible.