I’ve had a bit of writer’s block for a while, as evidenced by my latest Ben Folds project just petering out almost three months ago. Lots of reasons for this, most of which don’t seem that important right now.
But sometimes, I see something that just makes me want to write something real quick and get it off my chest:
Mittens Romney, a man that worked at one of the companies that helped kill Toys R Us (among others), is going to get on the Tweet machine (or have one of his social media interns or whatever) to tweet an attack at the long-promised-but-not-yet-delivered student loan forgiveness that isn’t any closer to happening than it was yesterday? Or the day before? Or January 20, 2021?!?
Let’s break down the tweet just a minute. Calling it a bribe is kind of rich, coming from the man from a party that can’t wait to hand TRILLIONS in dollars of tax cuts to their corporate donor class the minute they take over the government. Mittens wasn’t in the Senate then – but he says he would have supported it – but I’m sure he’s familiar with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, pretty much the only legislative accomplishment of the last guy’s treasonous administration. The CBO indicated when grading the bill that it would add a net of $1.891 TRILLION to the national debt over 10 years.
Let’s see who the TCJA benefits the most. I’ll give you a hint: it’s people like Mittens (emphasis mine):
- Taxpayers in the second quintile (incomes between $25,000 and $48,600, the 20th to 40th percentile) would receive a tax cut averaging $380 in 2018 and $390 in 2025, but a tax increase averaging $40 in 2027.
- Taxpayers in the third quintile (incomes between $48,600 and $86,100, the 40th to 60th percentile) would receive a tax cut averaging $930 in 2018, $910 in 2025, but a tax increase of $20 in 2027.
- Taxpayers in the fourth quintile (incomes between $86,100 and $149,400, the 60th to 80th percentile) would receive a tax cut averaging $1,810 in 2018, $1,680 in 2025, and $30 in 2027.
- Taxpayers in the top 1% (income over $732,800) would receive a tax cut of $51,140 in 2018, $61,090 in 2025, and $20,660 in 2027.
Put another way, people with incomes over $149,400 (in 2017 dollars) would receive ALL OF THE BENEFIT of the TCJA in 2027. That’s the top 20% of Americans. Breaking it down even further, the top 5% (income over $307,900) will receive 99% of the benefits, while the top 1% (over $732,800) would receive 83%. When Romney ran for president in 2012, he released his tax returns. Want to guess where he fell on the income scale back then?!?
Now back to the tweet. Student loans are currently the largest non-mortgage debt held in this country. Today, they are getting shockingly close to $2 TRILLION:
Now, sure. Mittens probably thinks that a bunch of hippies with liberal arts degrees are the ones that hold student loan debt. But that’s obviously not the case. Many people in his age cohort are paying off student loans – including the president, who recently completed paying off the loans of his deceased son Beau!
Look at this fancy chart put together by the Washington Post:
But all this is besides the point. Mittens Romney has been a man of privilege from the day he was born. He has no concept of what it means to struggle every month to meet his obligations. He’s from a generation that didn’t need student loans to attend college. My dad, who was born five years before Romney, attended Cal Berkeley in the 1960s for around $300 a year. He just had to pay student fees!!! How much does Cal cost today? Around $41,000 a year for California residents, an increase of about 14,000%. Sure, over 60 years, that doesn’t look like a lot, but if my dad’s cost simply went up by inflation since then, Berkeley would cost $2,856 per year. Wonder where the discrepancy comes from? Is it because the federal government has been backstopping higher education since 1965? Probably.
I didn’t need this tweet to know that Mittens Romney is out of touch with people like me, one of his constituents. But I’m also not the only one of his constituents that would benefit from some level of student loans forgiveness. Just because Romney and his ilk wouldn’t directly feel the impact of such a policy doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good policy. It also doesn’t mean that it is simply a ploy for votes, as I imagine that a lot of people that would be touched by loan forgiveness would still vote Republican for other reasons!
While polling is pretty good on this, there are still a bunch of people out there that think its bad policy, including some in the Biden White House. The most vocal people (on Twitter at least) are the ones that have already paid off their loans, or didn’t have loans at all, or just think that everyone should keep paying student loans forever. Can’t have someone getting a benefit that they won’t qualify for. That would be unfair!
Do you know what else is unfair? Some tech dork having access to $45 billion to buy a website, or another tech dork getting federal contracts to fly his rich friends to the edge of space. Before Social Security was a thing, the 1% of the 1930s thought it was a terrible idea. Now, it’s one of the most popular things the government has ever done. Same with Medicare and Medicaid. But not everyone benefits from those programs either, but there isn’t the same uproar from those today.
I think cancelling student debt without at the same time rethinking how we fund higher education in this country is a bad idea. If we don’t do something in that regard, this will continue to be a problem even after any forgiveness occurs. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t something we can do in the meantime, or do other things – like lowering interest rates on student loans to zero – to make higher education more affordable.
Honestly, with the way that things are politically in this country, especially with one party attacking educators for what they are teaching, it won’t happen legislatively. The president has the ability to forgive SOMETHING (if not all) by executive order. Personally, I’m about four years of federal employment away from qualifying for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and I’m (mostly) okay to wait for that. But others are not as fortunate as me, and would benefit from some relief; what that number is varies from borrower to borrower.
Forgive some debt, President Biden. We’ve been waiting.
Until next time…