The Democratic Party insiders--dinosaurs like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Charles Schumer, etc--don't realize it but the number one domestic policy issue in the United States today is the student loan crisis. Approximately 43 million Americans are carrying $1.3 trillion in student-loan debt, and at least half of them can't pay it back.
As the Wall Street Journal reported in April, about 40 percent of college-loan borrowers in the repayment phase aren't making their monthly loan payments. And five million people are enrolled in various income-based repayment programs. Most debtors in these programs are making payments so low that the payments don't cover accruing interest. In reality then, most people in income-based repayment plans will never pay off their loan balances.
Bernie Sanders signaled that he understands the scope of the problem when he proposed a free college education at a public college for every American. By making that pledge, he turned millions of young Americans into single-issue voters.
Hillary could attract millions of Bernie supporters by adding these planks to the Democratic Party platform:
- Free college education at a public college or university (as Bernie proposed).
- Eliminating the tax penalty for people who successfully complete long-term repayment plans but who have a loan balance when they've completed their repayment terms.
- Stopping the garnishment of Social Security checks for elderly student-loan defaulters.
- Forcing the for-profits to stop putting mandatory arbitration clauses in student enrollment documents.
- Repealing the provision of the 2005 Bankruptcy Reform Act that virtually eliminated bankruptcy relief for people who took out student loans from private lenders.
If Hillary and her handlers are smart, they will adopt these ideas. I hope Bernie refuses to endorse Hillary until she endorses at least some of them. If Bernie can pressure Hillary to make a commitment to solve the student-loan crisis, his campaign for the presidency will not have been in vain. But if the presidential race between Trump and Hillary rolls toward election day without any serious discussion of the student-loan crisis, then this country is in huuuge trouble.
Josh Mitchell. More Than 40% of Student Borrowers Aren’t Making Payments. Wall Street Journal, April 7 2015. Accessible at http://www.wsj.com/articles/more-than-40-of-student-borrowers-arent-making-payments-1459971348