Biden Is Trying to Bribe Voters With Student Loan Forgiveness | Opinion

We put five children through college (one is still attending). We saved up. We never took out any loans, as we didn't want our kids burdened with debt. Our kids went to William & Mary, Mary Washington, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins and the University of Pennsylvania. So far, the total costs for these colleges has been well over $600,000.

Last Tuesday, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden reaffirmed his commitment to broad student loan forgiveness at a town hall event in Miami: "I'm going to eliminate your student debt." If your family made less than $125,000 per year, as ours did, then Biden will forgive any debt incurred at public universities. He promised that others will also benefit: "Everyone gets $10,000 knocked off of their student debt." Also, he pledged to give young people $15,000 toward down payments on their first homes.

Should we have just borrowed all of this money and sent our kids to public universities? If so, we could have had $600,000 to spend on all sorts of other things—nicer cars, nicer houses or fun trips. Or it is money that we could have given our children and grandchildren when we die. We always purchased used cars that were a year old. My Ford Taurus lasted for 16 years and had over 225,000 miles on it. My wife's Pontiac Transport lasted almost as long before rust meant that it could no longer pass the state's yearly safety check.

But we didn't complain. We promised our children that if they worked hard and got into a good college, we would figure out a way to pay for them to go there. We were proud of our children's hard work, and we thought that going to a top university was important for their success in life.

So, because we saved up and behaved responsibly, Joe Biden will punish us. Those who didn't save or work 80- to 90-hour weeks, who spent their money on nice things, now get us and other taxpayers to pick up the tab for their kids' education.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

How exactly is that fair?

Nor is it fair to those who don't go to college. The people who go to college generally tend to be the wealthy citizens of the future. Why should those who didn't go to college, and are relatively poorer, end up giving large amounts of money to those who did go and are going to be wealthy?

Has anyone thought about the impact that these policies will have on people's behavior? It tells people that they don't need to save up to send their kids to college—that they don't need to save up to buy their first homes. If Biden wins and enacts his programs, Americans will surely reduce their already low savings rates. That will make our country poorer.

Biden's proposal will also be the death knell for many private schools, which will have a hard time competing against tuition-free public universities. The Obama administration put private, for-profit colleges out of business, and a Biden administration will finish the job with many nonprofit private colleges.

Student debt has ballooned over the last decade, but the cause is rather ironic. At the beginning of the Obama administration, the government took over student loans from banks. But the government was much less concerned than banks were about getting their money back. It just kept giving out loans, even if it looked like the student would never be able to pay it back. So now we have a situation in which the government lends out too much money to some people who went into fields that don't pay enough.

Biden and the Democrats are outright attempting to buy votes. Promising tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to young people is nothing short of bribery. And to do so, they are using my family's money and the money of other families that made sacrifices for their own children.

John R. Lott, Jr. is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author most recently of Gun Control Myths.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.