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We Must Cancel Everyone ’ s Student Debt, for the Economy ’ s Sake

Source Date: 
Saturday, February 9, 2019

Late last year, congressional Republicans passed a $1.5 trillion tax cut, which delivered the lion’s share of its benefits to the wealthy and corporations. The GOP did not justify this policy on the grounds that all corporate shareholders and trust-fund hipsters deserved to have their wealth increased. Rather, the party argued that, however one felt about making the rich richer, the tax cuts would ultimately benefit all Americans by increasing economic growth and lowering unemployment.

But what if we could have achieved those objectives, at roughly the same price, by forgoing tax cuts — and wiping out every penny of student debt in the United States, instead?

A new research paper from the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College suggests this was, in fact, an option.

In America today, 44 million people collectively carry $1.4 trillion in student debt. That giant pile of financial obligations isn’t just a burden on individual borrowers, but on the nation’s entire economy. The astronomical rise in the cost of college tuition — combined with the stagnation of entry-level wages for college graduates — has depressed the purchasing power of a broad, and growing, part of the labor force. Many of these workers are struggling to keep their heads above water; 11 percent of aggregate student loan debt is now more than 90 days past due, or delinquent. Others are unable to invest in a home, vehicle, or start a family (and engage in all the myriad acts of consumption that go with that).

The road to success is always under construction
– Lily Tomlin
"If we don't change direction soon, we'll end up where we're going."
– Irwin "Professor" Corey
"Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood."
– Marie Curie
"Bankruptcy laws allow companies to smoothly reorganize, but not college graduates burdened by student loans."
– Robert Reich
"There is scarcely anything that drags a person down like debt."
– P. T. Barnum
“What I would like to do... once I take care of all my kids' student loans, is buy a red 1965 Mustang and fully restore it.”
– Mike Quigley
“This would be a much better world if more married couples were as deeply in love as they are in debt.”
– Earl Wilson