- Rep. Rashida Tlaib was recently on the House floor asking for student loan forgiveness.
- Tlaib shared she still owes $70,000 in loans, despite making $174,000 a year.
- Student loan forgiveness would disproportionately benefit well-off Americans.
Okay, fast facts…
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) has run for public office 7 times, winning 5 elections. She’s raised more than $6 million dollars and, for the past 3 years, she’s earned $174,000 a year as a congresswoman. The average American salary is close to $60,000, putting Rep. Tlaib well above.
But at 45 years old, Tlaib still owes $70,000 in student loans. Oh, and she wants you to cover it.
“Yes, I worked full time, Monday through Friday, and took weekend classes to get my law degree,” Tlaib said on the House floor. “And…I still owe over $70,000 and most of it was interest. Most of it was our own government making money and profit off of me.”
That’s how borrowing works, but go on…
“And guess what? I didn’t go to the for-profit entities, I went to legal aid. I worked at the nonprofit organization fighting for the right to breathe clean air, to fight for the worker that was getting their wage taken and stolen from their employer. I went and worked on immigrant rights and so much more,” she continued.
So she made a professional and personal decision —now she wants taxpayers to foot the bill.
Thinking you can erase Americans’ $1.7 trillion dollars in student loan debt without sending severe shockwaves through the economy is incredibly naive. According to the Brooking Institution, “forgiving all student debt would be a transfer larger than the amounts the nation has spent over the past 20 years on unemployment insurance, larger than the amount it has spent on the Earned Income Tax Credit, and larger than the amount it has spent on food stamps.” That’s no small sum.
Then there are critics that say student loan forgiveness is upper class welfare.
In a piece for USA Today, contributor Emma Ayers reminds us that, “it’s not just the poor taking out loans. Students from families earning more than $114,000 a year borrow at the same rate as the lowest-income students — and they take out loans nearly twice as large. Students with advanced degrees — lawyers, doctors and others — account for 40% of all student debt.”
“The top 25% of income-earning households hold almost half of student loan debt, according to the Urban Institute. Student forgiveness would largely be a hand up to the better off.”
Better off people like Rep. Tlaib.
There’s also a misconception that President Biden can just wipe out student loans debt with a “flick of his pen,” as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer likes to say. But that’s not true.
There have been two special instances where the President has canceled student loan debt.
“Most recently, the Department of Education canceled $1.1 billion in federal student loans for 115,000 borrowers who attended ITT Technical Institute, a now-defunct chain of for-profit colleges,” Forbes reports. “The Department discharged that debt under borrower defense to repayment, a statute Congress created to allow borrowers who were defrauded by their colleges to receive debt relief.”
Makes sense. What else?
“The Biden administration has also forgiven $5.8 billion in loans for 323,000 borrowers who have a total and permanent disability that renders them unable to earn significant income. Like borrower defense, the total and permanent disability discharge is a program Congress expressly authorized.”
Two times debt was forgiven and two times Congress was involved. Biden. Can’t. Do. It.
Another important distinction in each of these cases: no one asked the taxpayers to write a check because they made a personal decision and failed to check the interest rates.