Student debt robs our country of young geniuses


People for the American way

Since it was taken over by far-right justices appointed by Donald Trump, the Supreme Court has eroded the quality of life for Americans. Now it looks like it could happen again if the court rules against President Joe Biden’s plan for student debt relief.

Oral arguments in the case took place in late February. The litigants, backed by far-right politicians, are trying to derail a Biden plan that would significantly reduce or even eliminate the debt of millions of low-income people across the country. Nearly half of Latino borrowers and a quarter of Black borrowers would see their entire student debt relieved.

I sincerely hope that the Court will not rule against this program, because debt relief would be good not only for individual students and graduates, but also for the country as a whole. Here because.

We have a great tradition of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit in the United States, spanning from Benjamin Franklin to Mark Zuckerberg and beyond. But what if our best-known inventors of the last few decades were saddled with massive student loans that they had to work for five, 10, or even 20 years? How long should they be employees rather than innovators, robbing us and the rest of the world of their contributions?

That certainly wasn’t a problem for Zuckerberg, whose father famously offered to pay for him to go to Harvard or to have his own McDonald’s franchise. (And yes, Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard, but for most of us that would be a bad idea). they work to pay it off for many years.

And for that reason, this debt crisis is very likely costing us the next entrepreneurial genius, including the next (possibly black or female) Zuckerberg. With tens of thousands of dollars in debt hanging over their heads, many young people can’t seriously think about starting their own business, or perhaps a nonprofit organization. This debt is also linked to the issue of fewer young people becoming homeowners; in the past, a home was often collateral for entrepreneurs raising money for a startup.

This is a great loss for the country. But there’s more. The debt crisis is also costing us jobs, the jobs that young innovators would create. After all, nearly half of Americans work in small businesses, the kind of companies young entrepreneurs would start building. And it’s reasonable to assume that this debt burden is hurting the economy in other ways. Paying down debt eats up discretionary income. Debt relief could put money back in the pockets of college graduates and boost consumer spending.

The Supreme Court case to be decided later this year hinges on a legal argument over the law under which the debt relief plan, the HEROES Act, was created. enormous economic benefit of the plan in a legal argument against its legitimacy. They argue that such extensive debt relief is a “major issue” of policy that goes beyond what is provided for in the HEROES Act. They also argue that the law only allows the government to ease student debt if it doesn’t leave borrowers “in better shape” than before. Of course, which individuals are “better off” and by how much is always debatable. And there’s a lot of things government does to make some segments of society better than others, but that’s a larger conversation.

What is clear right now is that easing student debt — and solving the high cost of education in general, even a broader conversation — would make our country “better.” I wish conservative politicians who want to squash the Biden plan could see this. In the meantime, we’ll wait and see what the Supreme Court decides.

Svante Myrick is president of People For the American Way. Previously, he served as executive director and led campaigns focused on transforming public safety, racial equity, voting rights and empowering young elected officials. Myrick garnered national attention as the youngest mayor in New York State history.

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