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SAUNDERS: When it comes to student loans, don’t forgive and forget

WASHINGTON — “From day one, my administration has been committed to fixing the broken student loan system,” President Joe Biden said to begin a video about his latest attempt to buy the college-graduate vote.

Whenever Biden calls something “broken,” reach for your wallet.

According to the White House, Biden’s student-loan forgiveness package should result in 4 million Americans seeing their college debt wiped clean; more than 10 million enjoying a reduction of $5,000 in debt relief; and the elimination of accrued interest for 23 million additional borrowers.

Forget, just for the moment, the cost to taxpayers.

What frosts me is the left’s apparent belief that loans shouldn’t be treated like, well, loans — at least for folks who went to college. To liberals, it is just plain mean to argue that adults who benefit from higher education should pay off the loans they accepted with open eyes.

They don’t seem to notice that college grads expect to make more money than most Americans, who never saw the inside of a college classroom.

During President Barack Obama’s tenure, newspapers discovered people who had borrowed huge amounts of money to go to college; after they graduated, they had an ugly run-in with reality about the heft of their monthly payments. That was an especially painful revelation for those who enrolled in college only to drop out.

Obama himself complained in 2012 that his wife Michelle, a fellow Harvard Law School graduate, and he had not paid off their loans until eight years earlier.

Well, that can happen when you choose the Ivy League.

“Forgiving loans,” House Education and Workforce Committee chair Virginia Foxx noted in a statement, is a “nonsensical term,” since the loans “don’t disappear but instead are forced upon taxpayers.”

These forgiveness schemes send the message, Foxx added, that “loans will never have to be paid back.” The result is a vicious cycle of colleges raising prices and students borrowing more. When you add room and board, the cost of attending some name schools already is approaching $100,000 per year.

One thing the left doesn’t seem to appreciate is that higher education is a choice. Ergo, going to an expensive school isn’t something you should expect other people to bankroll.

High school graduates are free to apply, not only to pricey universities, but also to more affordable institutions, including community colleges.

And really, the quality of an education is a function, not only of a school’s reputation, but also how much work students put into their studies and how well they challenge themselves.

The other affront to Democrats’ sensibilities is the notion that some people should go to community college. According to the highly-regarded NAEP test, just 37 percent of U.S. high school graduates were proficient at reading in 2019.

I know the president wants to take on “income inequality,” but that’s not done with the wave of a wand when so many students graduate unprepared for college.

As November approaches and young liberals have shown themselves unenthusiastic about the incumbent, Team Biden is spinning this scheme as a noble effort opposed by Republicans, who stopped Biden’s first effort to “forgive” student loans unilaterally by executive order.

All I can say is: Go, GOP. The right should fight against welfare for the better educated.

Contact Review-Journal Washington Columnist Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com. Follow @debrajsaunders on X.

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