About That Loan Forgiveness…

President Biden has announced his college loan forgiveness program. Let the carping begin!

Critics scream that forgiveness takes money from the broader tax base, mostly made up of workers who did not go to college, to subsidize the debt of people with valuable degrees. Technically, I suppose that’s true–but it’s also true for the massive corporate subsidies and tax credits that the GOP loves.

What about Trump’s 2017 tax cut for millionaires? Or those oil company subsidies and multiple other subsidies for big companies that can afford to hire good lobbyists?  How about those lower tax rates for hedge fund managers (“carried interest deduction”)?What about tax provisions benefitting only the rich–for example, allowing 100% deductibility for yachts purchased for “business purposes,” and  100% of the future depreciation for private jets in their first year of service?

Where are the GOP howls of “unfairness” about those examples of “socialism?” (I forgot–in the good old U.S. of A., we have socialism for the rich and capitalism for the rest of us…)

Republican lawmakers screaming the loudest about “unfairness” are the most hypocritical: Marjorie Taylor Greene  had $183,504 in PPP loans forgiven; Vern Buchanan (Florida) had more than $2.3 million forgiven;  Markwayne Mullin (Oklahoma) had more than $1.4 million forgiven; Matt Gaetz (Pedophile) had $482,321 forgiven. The list goes on. And on.

It also turns out that not all beneficiaries of loan forgiveness have those valuable degrees. A lot of them just have the debt. Researchers tell us that the people who struggle the most to repay their loans “are less likely to be baristas with six figures in debt and a graduate degree than blue-collar workers who have a smaller amount of unpaid loans but never graduated college.”

As Biden said, that worker has the “worst of both worlds — debt and no degree.”

The loan forgiveness program is specifically targeted to borrowers making less than $125,000 annually–those Yale graduates pulling down big bucks on Wall Street won’t qualify.  The relief will go to middle and low-income borrowers struggling to pay off their loans–and that targeted debt forgiveness is likely to have a significant positive economic impact. (As numerous studies have confirmed–when you give lower-income people more money, they spend it.)

A couple of things worth noting:  women ( Black women in particular) represent a disproportionate number of the borrowers who struggle with repayment; and school teachers are among those most likely to benefit.

A July 2021 report from the National Education Association showed that 45% of educators were student loan borrowers and over half of those still have a balance, averaging almost $59,000. Teaching typically isn’t a high-paying career, so paying off loans can be particularly burdensome. Experts say loan forgiveness would especially benefit early education (pre-K) teachers, who make even less than those in the K-12 system.

The loudest criticisms of loan forgiveness seem to come from people who paid off their own student debts. Alexandra Petri had a great –albeit snarky–response to those complaints in a Washington Post column.A couple of those paragraphs:

DISGUSTING! AWFUL! I have just received word that life is getting marginally better for some people, and I am white-hot with fury! This is the worst thing that could possibly happen! I did not suffer and strive and work my fingers to the bone so that anybody else could have a life that does not involve suffering and striving and the working of fingers to the bone. I demand to see only bones and no fingers!…

Every time anyone’s life improves at all, I personally am insulted. Any time anyone devises a labor-saving device, or passes some kind of weak, soft-hearted law that forecloses the opportunity for a new generation of children to lose fingers in dangerous machinery, I gnash my teeth. This is an affront to everyone who struggled so mightily. To avoid affronting them, we must keep everything just as bad as ever. Put those fingers back into the machines, or our suffering will have been in vain…

I fought uphill battles and squinted into the night and toiled and burdened myself in the hope that my children, one day, would also get to work exactly that hard, if not harder, and suffer at least as much as I did, and have, if the Lord allows, lives worse than mine. God, please make their lives worse!

These reactions do make me wonder why the owner of the corner hardware store isn’t howling about the unfairness of subsidies that pad the bottom lines of bigger businesses, or the tax cuts that saved him $10, but put lots more money in the pockets of the already-wealthy.

For my part, I really prefer having my tax dollars support the education of a kid from a low or middle-income family, rather than subsidizing the purchase of a yacht “for business purposes.”


  1. Yes, I am sure Ted Cruz knows who it benefits the most, which is why he is howling along with all the other panderers of racism.

    What’s sad is why didn’t Barack Obama do this when he had the chance. Sure does make you wonder.

    It makes you wonder about the timing also. Was it enough to get the Dems at the ballot box? If they don’t show up, or even if they do, I’ll bet there is a legal challenge after the election to reverse his decision.

    We shall see…it’s how the parties whip up their bases. Meanwhile, don’t look at the Treasury! 😉

    Who has won the most in the past two years? LOL

  2. Sometimes I wonder whether politicians understand math. This program includes those in families making up to $250,000. That is at the 83% income level. That doesn’t look good…

  3. I suspect that those who are howling the loudest are not happy about anything else, either. They cry about how badly they have been treated, how unfair all of this is to them. I went to college when it cost a lot less to do so. and finished without debt. I charged my MBA courses to my credit card, and paid it off without complaint.

    How do I feel about this “giveaway”? I’m happy for those who will feel the impact of loan forgiveness. I would also like to note that the order has made some changes to the service for debt forgiveness program that should make it easier to qualify. There should be no reason for anyone who teaches school to still have any student loan debt. Certainly their service has greater value than their debt balance.

    One key to happiness is to be happy for good things that happen, even to those you don’t know.

  4. Note to the forgiven PPPers > People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

  5. President Biden said he would do it and he is sticking to his promise. Thank you!

  6. I don’t agree that this is a good political issue for Democrats. Families that send their kids to college tend to be wealthier than those families who don’t. So you’re asking poorer people to subsidize the educations of wealthier people. What about people pursuing vocational education or go to post-secondary education institutions to learn a trade? Why are they not getting the $10,000? I just don’t think this issue is as good for Ds as they think.

    Fortunately, Biden had the good sense (not shared by some progressives) to limit it to $10,000 and means tested the forgiveness which ameliorates some of the aforementioned problem.

    The major problem though is that it does nothing to address the underlying problem of rapidly rising college tuition which has been increasing way above the inflation rate for decades. If I were to go to IU-Indy Law School (sorry…I refuse to call it the McKinney Law School because McKinney gave the state school a bunch of money) today it would cost me 10 times what it cost in 1984 when I entered law school. I checked out the inflation rate 1984 – 2022. If tuition tracked the inflation rate, the increase in tuition would have been 199% or just about double what it was in 1987. 2 times versus 10 times.

    The trouble is colleges and universities have not controlled costs over the years. The $10,000 gift not only doesn’t do that, it might make the problem somewhat worse.

    Then you have the problem of the for-profit schools which offer dubious education at inflated prices, saddling students with substantial debt for education that is not helpful in landing a job. A related problem is people taking out loans to get degrees which aren’t helpful in securing employment after graduation.

    What needs to also happen is that bankruptcy laws need to be changed so that student loans are treated the same as any other unsecured debt. The fact that it is so difficult to discharge student loans in bankruptcy has created a situation in which lenders are all too willingly to loan students money to go to dubious schools to get worthless degrees that aren’t going to improve their employment prospects. The lenders don’t care about what the student gets for his/her money because that person is on the hook for student loan even if the education turns out to be worthless.

  7. Paul failed to mention that Joe Biden was one of the ring leaders who passed bankruptcy laws nullifying student loans. A few years later, he is shaking a fist. LOL

    My favorite whiners are the military recruiters who are already having a hard time conning young people into serving in the military. That was a nice piece of candy.

    Commodifying knowledge is as dumb as commodifying health. Both should be free.

  8. I wish I could be as snarkily loquacious as Ms. Petri. Steve Wynn’s advice to the GOPIGGIES, to lie,
    STILL MORE, is a perfect marker for their way of doing business. I mean, I mean, if the lord, their god had not invented the word “hypocrisy” how could they even act like they want to govern?

  9. OK – the average household income of shoppers at dollar stores is $80,000. You can make up to $150,000 as a single person and get this debt relief. This looks terrible.

  10. the rich give to PACs untold(literally) millions,er, billions to fix election,and make sure they are the next goverment by the dollar. the country who gave many of these sloths the right to make it big,while stealing those wages that leave many,the majority in or next to poverty. if one elects to go to college,who also bennifits,wall street. shovel some more capital into accounts that lay and nest egg til theres little capital left. no taxes here baby, its not spent.soon we,ll be asking the billionaires to become the fereral billionaire reserve. then they can profit directly from those who seek a better education for a better life. the koch buy up education and send them to koch school. they didnt have to buy the school, they merely demanded it be like them.this fact the goverment stopped or turned off the flow of money to schools has allowed private endowments,(depends on where that endowment is shoved) to demand how education is taught. alumni is a brain child of the policies,given majority voice,the policy as they see it. depending on how and what arm its taught,decides how the next gen will taught,the biggest issue,does the outside world have any say? today starting education is given to people who want a political force to decide what little ones are to be,like christian nationalists,in kindergarten. fact,fewer people out side of the rightwing want to be on these councils. (school boards) the rampant rush for white nationalism in schools today seem to be a rekindling of the south era, circa,1890. it all now will start primaryand then,off to liberty U!
    demanding now in the county board meeting in Fargo,this month,they did away with the plege alligence a few months ago,then local white national fury,, they bought it back with only one vote against.
    in NoDak we have out of state venture capitalists buying up buisnesses. seems” on the run “has bought up a whole slew of convience stores across the states,spoiler,the prices are now higher,the food shabbier,
    but the fact is,they are buying up every store they can.. we have no anti-trust here in NoDak.
    take that idea and see when they start buying up all the schools..

  11. So,will medical debt be next? Of course not. Medical donors would be livid. Biden is gifting the University Industrial Complex. Leave it up to the Democrats to take a good idea and make it a bad one. This is another Fuck You from the Democrats to the people that had played by the rules.

    What’s being forgotten or swept under the rug is why the Democrats have not created a plan in the previous decades that doesn’t create the problem of student debt? They have had majorities.

    Biden’s plan is a divisive and lousy one.

  12. Paul –

    My daughter has a student loan debt over $30,000. She had to get her master’s degree in order to do the job she has. She works as a social worker for a home health and hospice company. (She often puts in 50 hours a week and has a small job on alternate weekends as a tour guide.) Her husband lays floors and is self-employed. They have 2 children. They struggle to get by. I have been helping them by paying down the student loan so their credit score isn’t so awful. Currently they can’t buy a new car because of that credit score without a cosigner. These two wonderful people are in their 40s. We are NOT wealthy. I worked as a teacher and mental health counselor for the state of SC for 31 years.

    So, Paul, where’s your poo-pooing about these folks below? (Thanks to Gerald S. for mentioning it first.) :

    Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) said: “For our government just to say ok your debt is completely forgiven.. it’s completely unfair.” Greene had $183,504 in PPP loans forgiven. (PPP – Paycheck Protection Program)

    Representative Vern Buchanan (R-FL) said: “Biden’s reckless, unilateral student loan giveaway is unfair to the 87 percent of Americans without student loan debt and those who played by the rules.” Buchanan had more than $2.3 million in PPP loans forgiven.

    Representative Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) said: “We do not need farmers and ranchers, small business owners, and teachers in Oklahoma paying the debts of Ivy League lawyers and doctors across the U.S.” Mullin had more than $1.4 million in PPP loans forgiven.

    Representative Kevin Hern (R-OK) said: “To recap, in the last two weeks, the ‘Party of the People’ has supercharged the IRS to go after working-class Americans, raised their taxes, and forced them to pay for other people’s college degrees.” Hern had more than $1 million in PPP loans forgiven.

    Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) said: “Asking plumbers and carpenters to pay off the loans of Wall Street advisors and lawyers isn’t just unfair. It’s also bad policy.” Kelly had $987,237 in PPP loans forgiven.

    Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said: Everyone knows that in a $60 Billion+ European land war, it’s always the last $3 Billion that kicks in the door….” Gaetz had $482,321 in PPP loans forgiven.

    They get millions in loan forgiveness and you are complaining about $10,000 for us?
    Gurl, please!!


  13. It is easy to do because it points out the hypocrisy, but you started to get lost in a “whataboutism”. Luckily you pulled back to the topic and made your point very well.

    Like you said, be happy that some people are better off and for once these are most likely well deserving people.

  14. Paul,
    The rising cost of College educations is kind of tied to the availability of student loans. More money is available so there are more dollars chasing limited resources. So the problem you point out is caused by the very student loans that cause so many people problems.

  15. Kathy, since you’ve stated on this very forum your hate of older and hourly wage persons via numerous posts,your last contribution really doesn’t explain why those people “who should go die” should be funding your daughter’s debt? Using politicos as an example is not a good example as to why your family is entitled to walk away from debt on the backs of those you have chosen to vilify in previous posts. Looks like WhatAboutism. Also,I don’t recall any of those politicos wishing for anyone to die in print or on the net. Considering your posting history,this is a fair que of questions; Are you special? Are you unique? Are you of royal blood? Are you entitled,yes?

    I recommend everyone in real life to read this very forum. It’s a good example of the Democratic Party mind. Crocodile tears. Crocodile tears.

  16. I was going to respond exactly the way you ended your post. I’d much rather my tax dollars be spent on education than oil subsidies.

  17. Lester, my preference is to remove the bureaucracy, stigma, and unfairness. Why have it means-tested at all? Why should some person making $124000 get $10000 off his loans, but another making $126000 doesn’t? It’s stupid. Plus, it doesn’t factor where the person lives or what other financial burdens she may have. Consider a person making $125000 in New York City, with its cost of living, and another making $75000 in rural Iowa. Who is having a tougher time repaying the loans? Save the money on administering the program and just make it universal.

    So, why isn’t it universal? I suspect it’s mainly because that would just be one more target for the naysayers to aim at. ‘Why should the “wealthy” get this money?’ they’d rant. But it’s a fake argument really, as the wealthy aren’t taking out student loans, are they?

    Basically, it’s people who make the same complaint as you do who cause this. (Well, and I bet Joe felt better by adding this requirement. He’s moving in the right direction, but he started from quite a long ways on the conservative side of things, so it’s no surprise it takes awhile to get to the better place.)

  18. John H. – WADR – there is accurate data on how much the cost of living is, perhaps, even by zip code. Every analysis I have seen is that most beneficiaries are solidly middle class in household income. The money will certainly help, but they are not likely down at the food bank or in danger of having no place to sleep. What signal does that send about our country’s values?

  19. Every tax and every payment is “unfair” to someone.

    Sadly, there are “facts” to support every point of view. I have heard that this will mostly affect the middle class (which is better than the rich); it mostly affects lower to middle income people who couldn’t finish their degree; and it overwhelmingly affects Black women. I admit to not having the knowledge to judge this one, but scholars that I trust see this as a net plus.

    I suspect that we all have our preconceived notions about who benefits, be it Reagan’s welfare queens or today’s rich, lazy college grads working on Wall Street, or with degrees in “women’s studies”.

    The problem may be that the only good tax/credit/loan forgiveness is one that affects ME, ME, ME. I know that I can handle life, am not discriminated against, pay all of my bills, so obviously the same holds true of everyone — or else it is a moral flaw (as was mental illness in the bad old days),

    John H is correct that means testing (1) adds a lot of bureaucratic expense, and (2) humiliates people by turning them into beggars. I know a lot of people who don’t avail themselves of all possible assistance, because they are to proud for “charity”, even if it comes from the government. However, means testing appeases enough people to allow “something” to get done, and I don’t believe in sacrificing the possible in the search of the perfect.

    Bankruptcy sounds great, except that while the rich and corporations recover, the rest of the people are labeled “deadbeat” by the credit bureaus for years and years. They aren’t on the street, but it is hardly the second chance that it is purported to be.

    To me, who was able to finish three degrees debt free, and helped my stepson not have to take out loans to cover what his scholarships didn’t, I say this is a good thing. I wish it was bigger, but again, better something than nothing.

    The GI bill may be seen as a reward for service, and it was a well earned one, but in cold economic terms, it helped create a vibrant middle class in this country. Wiping out debt – WITHOUT STIGMA – would free a lot of people to pursue their dreams and be a huge boost to this country’s long term economic well-being.

  20. I am so sick of republicans crying about this loan forgiveness when every bill that goes to the floor to lower costs of college or whatever good to the people is filibustered by republicans! Shut up and sit down and let’s help the citizens! You fellow citizens crying about this are embarrassing.

  21. Justin —
    What are you on?!?!?!?!? Your reference to my previous posts is so far from the truth I wondered if you had the right “Kathy.”

    Don’t call out someone personally here unless you can back up your claims! >:-(

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