AEM a few days ago announced Rep Hansen Clarke's call to forgive student loan debt. Obviously, it's an admirable thing to do on the floor, and I am in the midst of setting up talks with his office. However, I think it is important to keep in mind that, unfortunately, Clarke is not on any committees that could sway his colleagues to push legislation to forgive student loans (for instance, he is not on the Education & Workforce Committee - one that could have considerable influence on such matters, but has, sadly, been bought and sold by the industry). As much as we would all love that, it is not realistic. Perhaps at one point there was a possibility, but it has passed. With austerity measures being pushed by both parties, the notion of loan forgiveness is simply out of the question, and anyone who has any sense of how the market works and how the student lending industry and debt are bound to it, will tell you that it's a pipe dream.
When I met with a sympathetic congressman in mid-January, he let me know that his "new colleagues" were wanting to make it impossible to include medical bills in bankruptcy. So when it comes to relief for student loan debtors, things don't look great. If I were to be proven wrong, I would - of course - be delighted. But I also think it is important to be honest about these things and not mislead people who are struggling with student loan debt.
Rest assured, I wish that my analysis and knowledge of these things were not true.
But keep in mind, there were calls over three years ago by countless people for total loan forgiveness, and it didn't happen. That was at a moment in which major corporations and the banks were bailed out. It made sense then, but it makes no sense now.
The concept of loan forgiveness is not a new thing in this country. It's not a new thing when you go back through history. There used to be 'debt jubilees.' It would be great if that would happen here, but the situation is far more complex than that.
While I still applaud Rep. Clarke for what he recently said, it is a mistake to assume that those words could actually lead to change for the indentured educated class. At the same time, I look forward to meeting him in August.