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Don’t villainize those with student loan debt

Community V

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I’d like to reach out to others like me, the 43 million Americans carrying student debt. I want you to know that the Republican party despises you. They have chosen to villainize 43 million people, to unleash the wrath of Fox News, Facebook “experts,” and Twitter “patriots” against us. Forty-three million. That’s enough to swing an election. Why would any of us vote Republican after being degraded and called freeloaders? We’re not any of the pejorative things the Republicans are calling us. In fact, just the opposite is true. We are victims of the worst sort of government predation.

The problem is complex and fraught with political landmines, put there by Republicans. If you had a PPP loan forgiven; if you get farm subsidies to pay for housing for your illegal immigrant help or to buy overpriced farm equipment; if you ever took SNAP benefits or Medicaid; if the taxpayers pay your monthly Obamacare premium; if you get energy assistance; if you got a tax break because of your special circumstances; if you’ve ever received an “earned” income credit, back off. You don’t get to have a nice long draw off of the government teat and then turn around and tell me there’s none for me. Same government. Different teat. You didn’t earn it, either. (And I don’t want to hear Republicans whine that “PPP loans were designed to be forgiven.” So were student loans, and if you would actually inform yourselves about the issue instead of virtue-signaling on Facebook and Twitter, you might know this.)

If you’re one of the 43 million student debt holders being demonized by Republicans, you should know that Democrats despise you as well. They control both houses and the presidency. They could help us right now. But they do nothing, except send trillions of dollars to Ukraine, Iran, and China and encourage illegal immigration into this country. But they don’t have any money to help the 43-million Americans who were victimized by the government’s student loan ponzi scheme that made colleges and universities rich while leaving borrowers nearly broke--all of which happened under the Obama Administration.

Recently we heard Randi Weingarten, head of the AFT, brag how the AFT helped a teacher get $450,000 of student debt wiped out. This is because teachers and other public servants can get their debt eliminated after ten years of public service. It’s 25 years for the rest of us. Why? Why are public servants more protected, more valued than those of us who work in the private sector, the sector that makes the public sector possible? When did student debt holders in the private sector give up their right to equal protection and due process?

And please, please, don’t respond that you shouldn’t have to pay some rich kid’s loan. Again, this is Fox News and Republican propaganda. Most student debt holders are well over 40, and a significant number of us are over 60. We are permanently saddled with debt. The government encouraged private banks to make student loans without any means testing. The government itself did the same, telling us the streets were going to flow with cash. We would see a huge return on our investment. Go ahead. Take the money. This is the exact same policy that brought the U.S. economy to its knees under the presidency of George W. Bush. Instead of doing something different, the Obama Administration put forth the same predatory lending policies. This time for student borrowers instead of home buyer borrowers. The effect is exactly the same.

Further, the government protects private student loan lenders. It’s not like having a car loan or a home loan. Student borrowers who hold debt cannot negotiate that debt down and for the most part cannot have the debts discharged in bankruptcy. The government allows these lenders to chase the student debt holder for life, even though we didn’t get to negotiate the price of the tuition or books. No college representative ever said, “Tell you what. You take a Con Law class, and we’ll toss in Civ Pro for free.” That’s not how it works. The cost is whatever the college or university says it is. Period. And it gets worse. The Republicans allowed the Chinese Communist Party to have an interest in private student loans. Now, they protect the Chinese Communist Party over American citizens. The Democrats do the same. Seems reasonable.

Only some of us will qualify for the current round of loan elimination. Those people who took the bait and consolidated their government loans and private loans into one private loan cannot take advantage of the current student loan elimination program. Private loans are ineligible. So, if you consolidated your loans thinking you were being responsible, the government screwed you again.

The only good news is that Congress has finally acted to ensure that spouses who consolidated their loans and then divorced aren’t stuck with paying their ex’s loans, because that’s what happened when the government encouraged spouses to consolidate. An abused spouse was stuck paying the abuser’s student debt. So much for doing what your government tells you is good for you.

So, my 43-million student debt holders, why would we vote for either party? I have voted Republican in every election since 1980. I won’t do it again. The Republican Party has nothing but contempt for me and delights in encouraging their drooling internet keyboard warriors to attack me. But, I can’t vote Democrat. I’m just not woke. I don’t care about equity. I doubt that millions of non-white illegal immigrants are flocking here because this is a systemically racist country. I can’t go Democrat. That leaves me and people like me with two choices: vote for a third-party or just sit this one out.

If you don’t vote Republican, no one is coming to take your guns. If you don’t vote Democrat, no one is going to take the right to vote away from black people. But if you do vote for either party, they are coming for your money and your dignity. Forty-three million voters. That’s enough to change the outcome of both the upcoming midterm elections and the 2024 election. If you’re a student debt holder, I’m asking you to consider voting (or not) based on nothing else but this issue. We are not the enemy. We are not bad people. We are not freeloaders. We are American citizens. We have the right to be treated in the same manner as every other borrower.

I am happy to discuss this deeply complex issue with anyone who wants to understand the legal and political intricacies of this problem without namecalling and virtue-signaling. I can be reached at [email protected]

— Jerri L. Cook, Esq., Rib Lake

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