Hello and happy Saturday. In a week that was full of pretty weighty news—the release of a redacted version of the affidavit used to secure the search warrant executed at Mar-a-Lago, a close call with nuclear disaster at the Zaporizhzhia power plant in Ukraine, conflict between U.S. and Iranian-backed forces in Syria—the story that by far dominated was President Joe Biden’s executive order canceling up to $20,000 of student loan debt for borrowers earning less than $125,000 per year.
It’s easy to see why the story dominated: College tuition costs have been spiraling upward for years, affecting millions of American families. And the debate over what to do about it feeds right into our already awful polarization.
What’s most worrisome to me—besides the fact that the Penn Wharton Business Model updated its calculations after Biden’s announcement and suggests that the cost of debt forgiveness could approach $1 trillion, a number that actually used to mean something—is that it’s just one more sign that our political process is so broken that we are unable, or unwilling, to solve problems anymore.
Conservatives love to trot out Ronald Reagan’s famous quote: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” In many cases it’s true. Indeed, it pretty much sums up the sentiment behind Biden’s unilateral move to transfer debt from willing borrowers to taxpayers. (Not to mention that the student debt crisis itself is largely the result of government “trying to help” through its decades-long involvement in the student loan business.)