The Northerner | How Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell Could Impact Student Debt
It’s no secret that President-elect Joe Biden and Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell have arguments against canceling student loan debt. The main question that preoccupies many students and faculty is how the two will work together to tackle the large student debt across America.
The recent elections have shed light on the issues students are asking themselves about, and having a Democratic President-elect and a Republican Senator from Kentucky re-elected is one of the issues that is now in the spotlight. An NKU history professor and two students spoke about their take on student debt in the United States and how it affects students.
According to American News and World Report, the average number (in 2020) of money borrowed on student loans is over $ 30,000, which represents a 26% increase since 2009.
An article by Forbes states that there are 45 million borrowers who collectively owe nearly $ 1.6 trillion in student loan debt in the United States
In August, President Donald Trump extended the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) which offers relief from the payment of student loans until the end of the year due to the pandemic. Currently, student loan payments are temporarily suspended and the student loan interest rate is set at zero percent.
Trump recently proposed $ 25 billion for student loan cancellation, but has not explained how this program would work. However, McConnell said shortly after that Congress would not pass a stimulus package for canceling student loans until after the election.
In the past, McConnell has not supported canceling student loans. As Senate Majority Leader, McConnell dictates which bills go to the Senate and has the power to pass or reject a bill.
McConnell criticized the Obama administration for not being able to work together to find a solution to the current student debt crisis.
“All the president [then-Obama] has to do is pick up his mail, choose one of the bipartisan proposals that we presented in our letter, proposals that he has already shown he supports, and then announce to the students that the problem has been solved. McConnell said.
It has been eight years since and nothing has been done about the $ 1.6 trillion in student debt in the United States.
In July, an amendment introduced by Representative Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania who would provide $ 10,000 in student loan forgiveness to borrowers with private loans was passed by a majority partisan vote of 217-198.
Since then, Biden made a plan to extend this amendment which states that overdue student loan debt would be canceled for those who have repaid it for 20 years.
Those working in fields such as education or nonprofit organizations would receive up to $ 10,000 in student debt relief per year for up to five years for each year of stay in that field.
For those who earn more than $ 25,000 a year, they would pay five percent of their discretionary income for their student loans. Those who earn less than $ 25,000 a year would not be required to repay their loans and would not have to pay interest.
Senior Marketing Executive Kevin Grannen said he doesn’t have student loan debt, but knows others and understands the burden this can place on people’s futures. .
“I believe when you have someone who is struggling to pay their bills and feed their family, that’s something that [the amendment] would be good to be adopted … I think it [the amount] that’s too much, and I say this because what about the number of people who may be able to put food on their family’s plates but still pay student debt? Said Grannen.
Grannen said people shouldn’t take out student loans if they can’t afford to pay them back.
“If other people before you are paying that, you should pay that to some extent as well, because when you go to college you understand that you are going to go into a lot of debt after you graduate. You know the financial burden that will be imposed on you. If it’s not something you can afford, then why are you trying to pay for it? ” he said.
El Goebel, a first-year playwright, said she also had no student loan debt.
“I fully agree to offer support to students at all levels and at all levels,” Goebel said.
Goebel said the annual increase in tuition fees is to blame for all the student loan debt that has built up in America.
“When we look at tuition and university fees, these have actually inflated more than the rate of money inflation, so that’s where a lot of controversy arises from the older generations saying : “Oh, I worked one summer in high school and paid for my way to college. You legitimately can’t do it anymore because the university is so expensive, ”she said.
Goebel also said she believes the government should be responsible for helping students with student debt.
“Other countries have free college… we can do it, this is something other countries have done successfully,” she said. “The bare minimum our government can do is remove a large chunk of student loan debt. “
Dr. Paul Tenkotte, a history professor specializing in US history, weighed in on the underlying crisis and the story of Biden and McConnell.
Biden and McConnell were both born in 1942, during World War II, and are part of a generation called the “silent generation”.
“The way I think they’re going to affect your generation is nominal – nominal in the sense that the next generation is stepping up like Kamala Harris,” Tenkotte said.
Looking back on American history, many of those who served in the cabinets of past presidents have not been very diverse. Tenkotte said Biden’s unveiling of a very diverse cabinet, including those of different backgrounds and ethnicities, is unprecedented.
Tenkotte said he sees Biden as a transitional figure who is making his cabinet what America looks like today.
Biden and McConnell’s views are different from each other, despite being both of the same generation.
“McConnell’s take on how to do things is 180 degrees from Biden. So the big question I think you are asking yourself and everyone is asking is, what is going to happen? he said.
“McConnell holds the key as long as he remains the majority leader in the Senate. He holds the key to all legislation and all bills proposed by the House of Representatives… he determines what goes to the Senate, ”Tenkotte said.
The question that comes into play is how did McConnell become so powerful that he is able to determine which bills get passed? The answer comes from the Constitution.
Tenkotte said the Constitution was meant to be short and vague so it would be easier to follow later. If the Constitution were precise, it would be difficult to do anything.
“What has happened in the last 40 or 50 years is that the Presidency has assumed enormous power… the post of Speaker of the House has assumed enormous power and the Senate Majority Leader has assumed enormous power, ”he said.
Between the Supreme Court, the President, the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader, there are a dozen people who represent the wants and needs of 330 million Americans.
“You have to decide how to rebuild democracy,” he said.
The big issue Tenkotte discussed was the issue of affordable tuition fees for students.
A graph of Statistics shows that college spending for public institutions in 1969-1970 was around $ 323 while in 2017-2018 college spending for public institutions was around $ 7,250.
“We can’t afford to take people out [of college] with massive debts because it means there is less money available in the economy to build the economy, ”Tenkotte said.
Tenkotte said that Biden and McConnell both grew up in a “linear generation,” which means they’re both used to things working in the order of a straight line. One problem leads to the next and they go from there and they are not used to the bumps along the road. He compared it to recent generations who don’t work in a linear fashion and have to think about things that are going exactly as planned and prepare to face obstacles.
“Unless they surround themselves with people who think non-linearly – and I think they will – we’ll take the next step,” he said.
Tenkotte believes Biden and McConnell will work to help the students. In the past, the presidents of a political party and the Senate majority leaders of the opposing political party have been able to come together and make decisions that will help the American people.
“I think Biden will help the transition to rebuild democracy,” Tenkotte said.