In fact, Bernie is the only presidential candidate to offer a realistic plan to address the student-loan crisis, which is crushing millions of Americans. Bernie's plan for a free college education at a public college is eminently sensible, and cheaper than what we are doing now, which is to loan $165 billion a year to college students and only get about half of it back.
In contrast, Hillary's student-loan reform plan is to pump an additional $30 billion a year into the nation's bloated and corrupt higher education industry. That's Hillary's solution to every problem--let's shovel some money at it and make sure the insiders get most of the loot.
And let's not forget that Hillary tweeted young voters last summer, asking them; "How does your student loan debt make you feel? Tell us in 3 emojis or less." Let's see if I can find three profane emojis to send her.
And Cruz is no friend to student-loan debtors. He represented the lender in the famous Espinoza case, in which a bankrupt baggage handler argued that he should only be required to pay back the principal on his debt and should be relieved of the accrued interest.
Espinoza's argument was very reasonable; after all it is the accrued interest and penalties that are crushing most distressed student-loan borrowers--not the amount they actually borrowed. But Cruz's client prevailed before the Supreme Court--a 9 to 0 decision against poor Mr. Espinoza.
So if you are one of 20 million overwhelmed student-loan debtors, Bernie is the only game in town. Unfortunately, you and I know that Bernie's free-college plan will never be enacted, because too many political interests benefit from the status quo.
But there are other student-loan reforms Bernie could propose that are less ambitious than his free-college plan but which would resonate with young voters. Here are a few ideas for him:
1) Let's force the for-profit colleges to stop making their students sign arbitration agreements that cut off students' right to sue for fraud. DOE Secretary John B. King favors regulations to stop colleges from putting arbitration clauses in their student contracts. Bernie could reasonably support King's efforts.
2) The government could require all loan servicers--including Educational Credit Management Corporation and Navient--to disclose the compensation packets for their senior executives and their debt collectors and to disclose on a public web site the amount they pay their lobbyists, the attorneys who hound student-loan debtors, and the recipients of all their campaign contributions.
3) The government could stop garnish Social Security checks of elderly college-loan borrowers who defaulted on their loans. This is a logical extension of the Obama administration's decision to forgive loans of disabled borrowers.
I think if Bernie would add a just couple of additional features to his plan to solve the student-loan crisis, he would see an even bigger surge of support among young voters--maybe enough of a surge to assure a victory in California.
And of course my ideas for appealing to young voters are open to any of the Presidential candidates: Hillary, Cruz, Kasich and Trump could take these ideas and run with them. But Bernie is the only presidential candidate who shows any interest in solving the student -loan crisis.
|Ted Cruz: No friend of student-loan debtors|
|How does Hillary's emoji on student loans make you feel?|
United Student Aid Funds, Inc. v. Espinosa, 130 S.Ct. 1367 (2010).