Sen. Elizabeth Warren Proposes Student Debt Relief Be Included in Coronavirus Measures

Illustration for article titled Sen. Elizabeth Warren Proposes Student Debt Relief Be Included in Coronavirus Measures
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Crazy how much shit can change up on you in literally the span of a week. Things that sounded out of the realm of possibility now seem like very real solutions. Take, for example, canceling student loan debt.

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Senator and former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, writing for MTV News, calls for the next coronavirus bill to include measures to cancel student loan debt for millions of Americans. While the pandemic is the immediate concern right now, the economic ramifications are a source of concern with many. We’re seeing closures and job losses at an unprecedented level and debt cancellation could provide some serious financial relief for those most in need, particularly black and Latinx citizens.

From MTV:

The burden of student debt is also not distributed equally across all Americans: it disproportionately burdens Black and Latinx students. Black students are on average nearly 20 percentage points more likely to take out federal student loans. Half of Black borrowers and a third of Latinx borrowers default on their loans within 20 years. Canceling student loan debt would increase wealth for Black and Latinx families and help them avoid default.

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This has long been a policy position Warren has held. It was one of the main pillars of her presidential campaign. The measures she presents would cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt for Americans who need it. While it has long been called unrealistic and unfair to those who paid off their debt, given the rather unprecedented set of circumstances, debt relief may just be one of the things needed to ease the financial burden millions of Americans are facing. This could be a positive not just for now but for the future.

Once the current craziness subsides, debt relief could free folks up to buy a house, perhaps a car, ball out on the new Xbox or maybe even just buy that pair of Travis Scott Jordan IVs they’ve been eyeing for almost two years now. Congress is currently working on drafting the next stimulus package for Americans so who knows, in a few weeks’ time you might be able to curve Navient.

Jr Staff Writer @TheRoot. Watcher of wrestling, player of video games. Mr. Steal Your Disney+ Password.

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DISCUSSION

westerosironswanson
The Ron Swanson of Westeros

This has long been a policy position Warren has held. It was one of the main pillars of her presidential campaign. The measures she presents would cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt for Americans who need it.

Okay, that’s great, but please stop means-testing these policies.

Look, means-testing is premised on the idea that you want to distinguish “deserving” people who need help, from “undeserving” people, who either because of some moral failing that we don’t want to endorse, or because they have the capacity to help themselves, we therefore would be better served as a society by not helping them, and denying our natural sense of empathy.

Now, there is a general, Rule # 1 problem to how we in America use this argument, because functionally, we treat things like “race” and “gender” as reasons to find a person “undeserving” (God help you if both race and gender are working against you). White people certainly won’t say that black people are “undeserving”. But functionally, they do tend to act as if everything black people do are moral failings, and worse, white people will change their definition of “moral failings” if black people change their behavior. And on that basis, they will therefore define African-Americans as “undeserving”, no matter what African-Americans actually do. As evidence, I invite you to recall how white people felt about, say, an African-American who dressed up in a suit, and tie, and glasses, and started quoting Barry Goldwater:

But in this case, there’s an even-more fundamental, Rule # 0 problem: nobody in this circumstance is engaging in any kind of moral failing. Literally, people are losing their jobs because the government has called down prohibitions on people working at those jobs to contain an epidemic. That is not immoral behavior; in point of fact, we definitely want people to adhere to these government mandates if at all possible.

That being the case, the absolute last thing you want to do is means-test benefits. Even if you accept the premise of them under normal circumstances, the simple, inescapable fact is that these aren’t normal circumstances. As such, behavior needs to change.