Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Tuesday made the case for cancelling $50,000 in student loan debt for borrowers across the nation. According to the senator, student loan debt burdens millions of Americans and “right now” is the time for lawmakers to act.
Schumer described getting a higher education as a “ladder up” with “student debt being a weight down.” He cited a number of reasons for Americans taking on massive student loan debt, including the skyrocketing cost of tuition and low-wage jobs that are available for college students.
“So many people have a mountain of debt on their shoulders. Americans are $1.7 trillion [in debt]. Nine million students, former students, are in default on their loans. It gets worse and worse and worse,” Schumer said during a video chat.
Having student loan debt, according to Schumer, dictates what path Americans decide to take and what big ticket purchases they decide to make. A growing number of Americans’ student loans are having a drastic strain on the economy as well, he explained.
But what he is most concerned about is the “wealth gap” that is created.
“The average black borrower owes more than 100% of their loan balance, even after 12 years after college,” Schumer said. “So this is not only a problem for the whole country, for the economy, and for students, past and present and their families, but it’s also part of treason that we have such a division between black and white and wealth and income.”
The Senate majority leader made the argument that President Joe Biden has the “legal authority” to cancel $50,000 worth of student loan debt for each outstanding borrower. It can done with a “flick of the pen” through executive action, Schumer said.
Sen. Chuck Schumer on canceling $50K of student debt: "We ought to go do this right now." pic.twitter.com/aBdQXDMWI5
— The Hill (@thehill) April 6, 2021
This issue is not as simple as Schumer makes it out to be.
For one, when students took out a loan, they signed their name and promised to pay it back with interest. A loan is just that. A loan. A promise to repay what was taken. This is not a scholarship. This is not “free money” for all who want it. This is a commitment to your neighbors to give the federal government the hard-earned taxpayer funds that were lent to the student.
In America, we have this notion that we are entitled to anything and everything and we are not. Every single one of us who chose to go to college, to get an education, made that choice because we thought that was the best choice for ourselves and our families. We saw a potential to not only obtain an education but to also land a job that pays more. Making the conscious effort to choose the college path means taking all that comes with that path. For many of us, that means going into debt to get to where we need to be. Having to pay back a loan for your education also means you are far more likely to take it seriously. After all, it is your money at stake, not someone else’s.
It is absolutely unfair to tell men and women who never went to college to foot the bill for those of us who made a conscious decision to get a higher education. The majority of those who went the trade route did so because they did not want the mountain of student loan debt Schumer referred to. Telling them to suddenly suck it up and pay for their neighbor’s education is not only wrong but it’s un-American.
But this brings about a bigger issue: college is not the answer for everyone. We need to stop telling high schoolers that college is the only way out of poverty, that they will never amount to anything if they choose not to attend a university. The truth is, in many instances, those who chose trades – like plumbers and electricians – are making more than those with bachelors degrees.
We continually hear things about the “wealth gap” and how people of color are left behind with this mounting student loan debt. Every single one of us with student loans in our name – myself included – made a conscious choice to go to college. No one forced us to. No one made us to sign our names on loans for tens of thousands (sometimes hundreds of thousands) of dollars. We made an adult decision and literally have to pay the price for that. That price tag varies on a number factors, many that are of our own choosing, like what university we attended, where we lived, how many credits we took at a time, and how long it took us to complete our program.
Just like with everything, there are exceptions. Some people had to work their way through college. Some had mom and dad who helped out. Many fell somewhere in the middle, where they worked and received a bit of financial support from their families. But it is disingenuous to definitively say all white people were handed everything on a silver platter and minorities were given the short end of the stick.
We are Americans first and the color of our skin second. We live in the greatest country in the world, with the so many opportunities. Whether or not we decide to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps is dependent upon us. But being handed everything is not the American spirit, or at least not the one I grew up with.
Beth Baumann is a Political Reporter at The Daily Wire. Follow her on Twitter @eb454.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.