Trillion dollar giveaway looms
The drumbeat to forgive student loans grows apace. Each new article must have a sympathetic case study or two to tug at our heartstrings. Consider this, from Bloomberg News, a story picked up by newspapers across the land.
The poster child this time is one Linda Brice, a schoolteacher, single mom and woman of color (the article says nothing about her race, but the pictures make it clear). Brice borrowed $3,100 in the 1970s to attain a degree in psychology. She felt she did not need to repay the money because she was giving back to her community:
"If you are a person who gave to your country, who does the kind of work I do, or is a police officer or firefighter -- anyone who gives back to their community -- I think the government needs to give you a break," Brice said.
I can relate to her case, in a way. I too earned a degree in the 70s, an unmarketable degree in the humanities. I graduated with $1750 in student loans. My payments were $35 per month, a lot of money then, especially because I too was "giving back," working for a nonprofit, only we transcended "giving back" to the community as too cramped and narrow. No, we were on a mission to save the whole wide world, as we earnestly explained to anyone who wanted to listen - and many who did not wish to listen. Living at the poverty level, I always made my payments. I don't think I was ever late; I know I never missed one.
Why did I do it? Why pay up? It never occurred to me that I had an option. I blame that on my parents: paying your bills was just something you did, like brushing your teeth.
Brice apparently didn't know she was supposed to repay her loans. "The Education Department said it mailed 90 notices to Brice between 1990 and 1999 that some of her loans were in default. Brice said she never received them." So absent those delinquency notices, she had no idea she should pay. After all, she was "giving back."
Just how big a problem are these bad loans? Total student loan debt now exceeds $1 trillion, more than credit card debt, with over 5 million borrowers in default, to the tune $67 billion. What's more, the article informs us, the federal government is "relentless" in pursuing those debts. Relentless. Why, last year they filed 4,841 lawsuits against delinquent borrowers. Relentless. That's less than 1 in 1,000. Relentless. Oh, and those lawsuits are filed by private lawyers, a practice that started in the Reagan Administration! Everywhere you turn you find the heartless touch of those evil Republicans.
So listen for the drumbeat for forgiveness of student debt to grow louder and louder. It could be Obama's October surprise, to shore up support from another voting bloc.
Henry Percy is the nom de guerre for a technical writer living in Arizona. He may be reached at saler.50d[at]gmail.com.