President Joe Biden told a group of U.S. officials last week that he was looking for ways to forgive, in the words of CBS News, a “substantial” amount of federal student loan debt.
We can take some comfort that a member of Congress at the meeting, U.S. Representative Tony Cardenas, D-California, told CBS News and The Associated Press, as the Williamsport Sun-Gazette reported on Friday, that the president did not say that the United States would wipe off all student loan debt and that President Biden was aware of the difference in debt accumulated in private institutions and more affordable public institutions.
However, this assurance fails to offset our concern at the White House weighing executive orders, the possibility that a “substantial” amount of debt would be an overspend on the US budget and the reality that it would be an expensive treatment for a symptom that overlooks two more important underlying issues.
An executive order avoids the role of the legislature, where a more nuanced compromise can be found, transparently debated, and adopted in the manner mandated by the Constitution. Our government is increasingly – and unacceptably – dependent on executive orders and actions that neglect our most directly elected officials and favor behind-the-scenes dealings over open discussions.
As total student loan debt in the United States exceeds $1.6 trillion and the United States faces a national debt of over $21 trillion, a nuanced compromise becomes even more important than cancellation. broader student loans.
We are not indifferent to the concerns of college graduates. We recognize that the decision to pursue higher education was not a trivial purchase or a whim, but a sincere effort to better contribute to the United States as part of the workforce. But, if our legislators choose to go down this path, limited help for graduates in fields such as health care and engineering, and help for students who have made the prudent choice to attend More affordable public schools should be prioritized rather than a massive spending spree.
Finally, to approach the problem with sympathy, one must recognize what the real problems are – tuition fees that have risen beyond any other indicator of inflation for decades and stagnant wages and salaries that have persisted for decades. Any type of general forgiveness does not solve any of these problems.
The White House and Congress would likely accomplish more — and for more people — while spending less if they focused on the causes of skyrocketing tuition fees and stagnating wages.