Student Loan Forgiveness Is Left-Wing Trickle-Down Economics | Opinion

The Education Department wiped out $4 billion in student debt this week for over 200,000 borrowers. It was the second time the Biden administration eliminated student loans; they also forgave $6 billion in June, and extended a pandemic-era moratorium on student loan payments that began in March 2020.

To the progressive camp, this is nowhere near enough. They have been pushing for full cancelation—of all student loans. "I still haven't heard a reason against student debt cancelation that isn't rooted in cruelty," tweeted progressive congressional candidate Nina Turner, expressing a view commonly expressed by progressives like Senator Bernie Sanders, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Senator Elizabeth Warren.

"REMINDER—student debt is a tax on the poor and working poor who dared go to college to break the cycle of poverty!" Turner tweeted this week.

But that's not what it looks like from where I'm sitting. I'm a blue-collar worker, and when I talk to other blue collar workers about student loan forgiveness, it's one of those subjects where no one disagrees. It gets a resounding, 100 percent "Hell no!" every time it comes up.

This isn't because we're anti-college. Most of the folks I work with and talk to have kids in college or have kids that graduated college. But if you ask if college students' loans should be paid off by taxpayers, the answer is always the same: No way.

Unlike progressives, we don't see student debt cancelation as an avenue out of poverty. We see it as a tax on those of us who chose not to go to college, who now have to pay for those who already got a big advantage in the labor market by way of their degree.

Maybe the college degree didn't give them the job they wanted. But when it all comes down to it, before taking out a big loan, it's on you to know what you're getting into. It's on you to do your due diligence. Big decisions like taking on thousands of dollars in debt have consequences. Why should that burden fall to taxpayers?

And it does fall on taxpayers. Calling it "canceling student loans" is just as dishonest as calling government funded health care or education "free." None of this is free; it's taxpayer funded. It's not cancelation; it's taking money from the taxpayer and putting it toward paying off student debt held by borrowers.

It's deeply disrespectful to the people they are trying to convince to help pay for their loans to misrepresent it.

Student loan forgiveness
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 12: Student loan borrowers gather near The White House to tell President Biden to cancel student debt on May 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. Paul Morigi/Getty Images for We, The 45 Million

But far from making the case to working class Americans like me, progressives act aggrieved if you ask them to defend this proposal. As Turner put it, she's never heard a reason against student debt cancelation "that isn't rooted in cruelty." In other words, don't ask her to defend her position demanding you pay for the student loans of lawyers and doctors and film studies majors; you're the cruel one for thinking you deserve to understand why you—a waitress or carpenter or nurse's aid or lineman—should pay for it.

How much of an elitist do you have to be not to give a damn about the cruelty of demanding that blue collar workers who didn't go to college chip in and pay off student loans that they didn't take out?

When I ask progressives why we should pay for something we didn't benefit from, they like to say that paying off student loans would leave these college grads with more disposable income to buy things, which is good for the economy and for the working class because it will make more jobs for blue collar workers.

There's that elitism again. We live to serve, apparently!

It's the Left's version of trickle-down economics: Let the upper classes keep more of their money and the lower classes will somehow benefit.

Somehow, when Republicans make this argument, it's very clear to Leftists how ridiculous it is.

If they are so committed to canceling debt, why not push for car loan forgiveness, or medical debt forgiveness, which would help more classes of people and would in many ways be cheaper?

And therein lies the ugly truth: Progressives are not rallying for those causes because they don't focus on who progressives really care about: highly educated elites.

That's who has the most student debt: The top 40 percent of households hold 60 percent of the student loans.

Of course, it's true that some people with student loans are poor. But don't even think about suggesting narrowing the scope of whose debt is forgiven to those who truly need help. No, it's got to be total cancellation—for the poor and rich alike.

"Means-testing student debt cancellation is bad policy," Turner tweeted in May, in a tweet typical of the progressive position. "Full cancellation is good policy."

Full cancelation means that even if the borrower has the money to pay back their loan and is not struggling financially, they, too, should still get their loans paid off by taxpayers who didn't take those loans out.

Progressives like to say that the road to the middle class is through college. But there used to be another one. Blue collar work used to secure a middle class life for millions and millions of Americans, until the elites of both parties shipped manufacturing off to China. Now the offshoring of manufacturing has a new younger sibling: progressives' crown jewel, their climate policy, which is killing high-paying working-class jobs that once secured middle-class lives.

Now they want the struggling working class to pay off the loans that secured the degrees that catapulted them into the upper middle class while dropping us out.

The progressive approach seems to be telling folks that didn't take out student loans or folks that struggled to pay off their student loans or those of their kids that it would benefit us and make our lives better if taxpayers all banded together to pay off the student loans of the elites.

This is just trickle-down economics, Leftist edition. It's just as ridiculous coming from the Left as it is from the Right. Blue-collar workers can see that very clearly.

Charles Stallworth is a union railroad worker.

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