Yet even Republicans, who just used a public health crisis to pull off a staggering corporate cash grab, have been forced to give some ground. The Department of Education announced that most student loan borrowers will be able to suspend payments for six months without accruing interest and they are also halting collection on defaulted federal student loans “until further notice”.
Around the world, mortgage and bill collections are being paused, utility shutoffs for overdue accounts are being prevented, and foreclosures and evictions halted. It turns out that changing the rules that dictate our daily financial agreements is possible after all, and can happen with remarkable speed. The challenge moving forward is ensuring that some of these changes stick. This crisis offers a chance to not just hit the pause button and offer temporary relief for those who are in distress, but to permanently change the rules so that untold millions of people aren’t so vulnerable to begin with.
Completely eliminating student debt would be a good place to start. All federal student debt can be erased in an instant using authority Congress has already vested in the Department of Education. But it will take a movement to push public officials to actually do it.
We can’t repeat the mistakes of 2008, when the bank bailout program left the financial sector stronger than ever while millions of families lost their homes and jobs. This time around we need a “people’s bailout” that includes a far-reaching program of debt cancellation to help those who are not just physically vulnerable but financially precarious better weather the coming storm.
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction