Could the US student debt crisis unite Republicans and Democrats?

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      That’s why it made headlines when A Wayne Johnson, a former senior official in Trump’s education department, recently announced a plan to forgive hundreds of billions of dollars of federal student loan debt. Johnson is a long-shot candidate seeking appointment to a soon-to-be-vacant US Senate seat, and his plan is unlikely to be enacted anytime soon. But it is rare indeed to see a Republican official seeming to side with left-leaning Democratic presidential candidates such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren (who have both proposed major debt-forgiveness plans) against his former boss, the education secretary, Betsy DeVos (who has called such proposals “crazy”). What does it all mean?

      Student loan debt is a metastasizing national problem and political issue (as this Guardian Q&A helpfully explains). Some 45 million Americans have student loans, and student debt has doubled over the past decade. The overall national student debt is $1.6tn, which is expected to balloon further to $2tn by 2022. Nearly a fifth of borrowers who are not presently enrolled in school are at least 90 days delinquent in their payments. Student loan debt exceeds both credit card debts and auto loans, and appears to be damaging the economy by causing young people to put off marriage, childbirth, home ownership and small business formation.

      Johnson, who oversaw the Office of Federal Student Aid in the Trump administration, points to repayment trends that suggest much of the student loan debt will never be repaid. The debt burden, he says, “rides on [debtors’] credit files – it rides on their backs – for decades. The time has come for us to end and stop the insanity.

      “If this was a medical problem,” he adds, “it would be a pandemic, and the whole country would be figuring out how to inoculate against it.” The system, he concludes, is “fundamentally broken”.

      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

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