Trump's Student Debt Plan is a Liberal's Dream

That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works!

Well, how does it work?

If you’re a responsible adult and a conservative: If you owe a debt, you pay a debt.


If you’re a liberal Democrat or serial filer of bankruptcy, you just stick it to the taxpayers and leave your creditors hanging.

Donald Trump, President-elect and friend to liberals, is shedding any mask of conservatism he may have been hiding behind (however poorly), and has proposed a stunningly liberal plan for cancelling student debt.

“We would cap repayment for an affordable portion of the borrower’s income, 12.5 percent, we’d cap it. That gives you a lot to play with and a lot to do,” Trump said at a rally in Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday. “And if borrowers work hard and make their full payments for 15 years, we’ll let them get on with their lives. They just go ahead and they get on with their lives.”

The terms proposed by the Republican nominee are more generous than all of the existing government programs that let borrowers cap their monthly student loan payments to a percentage of their earnings. Even the latest income-driven plan, known as Revised Pay as You Earn (REPAYE), forgives remaining debt after 20 years of payment, though it caps borrowers’ monthly bills to 10 percent of their income.

What’s remarkable about Trump’s proposal is it flies in the face of the fiscal conservatism that’s supposed to define the Republican Party. Republicans have railed against the Obama administration’s expansion of income-driven repayment programs as fiscally irresponsible, yet the party’s nominee wants to lower the period of repayment, which is sure to cost the government quite a bit of money.


That would be because he’s not a conservative or a Republican, if you use the party’s supposed platform as the measuring stick.

Or you could just use his not-too-distant past relationships and political contributions to craft a framework of a candidate who has very little in common with the party he supposedly represents.

Trump’s plan, overall, is a tool to pander to those millennials who are looking for a way out of increased student debt.

Student debt sucks. I get it. As somebody who went back to school later in life and has student debt, I get the squeeze. The thing is, however, I made the choice to go back. I knew there would be debt, and when I signed on the line, I knew I was taking on several responsibilities.

One, was to apply myself to my studies and make the most of my time as a student. And two, to pay the debt I’d signed on for.

“They are way off on their numbers,” said Jason Delisle, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. “If you were going to give loan forgiveness in 15 years, you’re going to forgive a lot more debt than you’re going to make up for in the form of the higher payments they’re proposing, by a lot. I don’t even need to run the numbers. It’s so obvious.”

Trump’s campaign said he would consolidate the existing suite of repayment plans and apply his 15-year income-based plan to federal and private student loans. The candidate is not providing any cost projections, but the campaign said the plan will be paid for by lowering federal spending and the savings from reducing defaults on student loans.


Trump’s plan is an income-driven plan, which conservatives have a problem with, due to what they see as a giveaway to those whose professions afford them six-figure incomes and a burden on taxpayers. The left, however, want to make sure those in undergraduate programs don’t miss out on the benefits.

“Income-driven repayment is not the ideal solution. It’s been a politically convenient one, but it doesn’t address the underlying issues,” said Amy Laitinen, director for higher education at the New American Foundation. “Given the increasing risk to students in terms of loans and to taxpayers in terms of loan forgiveness, we have to grapple with upfront costs, which means looking at the role of states and the need for incentives to deal with both cost and quality.”

It’s another complicated issue, made more complicated by a president-elect who seems confused about which side of the aisle he’s supposed to be on.

Let’s hope pandering gives way to reasoned discussions with those in his circle who may be able to come up with a more workable plan.


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