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The Messy Debate Over Student Loan Forgiveness [AUDIO: 39:52]

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Check out The Messy Debate Over Student Loan Forgiveness [AUDIO: 39:52]

I’ve become a fan of Derek Thompson’s writing since he’s very good at explaining things. I’d recommend listening to his podcast Plain English as well as his newsletter.

Not that I have a leg in the student loan debate1, but I really liked this podcast episode. It’s far better than the asinine Twitter fights between people who think 10K isn’t a lot of money and those who think it’ll plunge the US into hyperinflation as it rewards the wealthy at the expense of the ordinary American. Jerusalem (now at The Atlantic, another writer I also respect, looks at this from the angle of whether it solves the actual problem, which is sort of does but not really.

10K will help borrowers, but it doesn’t do much to address college affordability. Like many, I argued that it doesn’t do much besides income based repayment because it’s all that Biden can do given an uncooperative Congress. Thing is, is it really? Jerusalem explains that the reason it is so is because someone did the work to see what is legally possible from the executive branch. If someone did the work to see how the executive can reduce the loans they pay, The Biden Administration could look into how they can leverage the executive branch to make college more affordable. Seems like a problem in general as to how the US (and people in general) approach problems (quote is paraphrased, emphasis mine):

this is a larger problem we have within politics, when people feel like the actual problem is too difficult to solve, or there’s some political barrier in the way of solving that problem. They nibble around the edges in order to attack the problem—and often it’s to satisfy some constituency or because they actually do feel bad about the problem that exists—but in doing so they end up pursuing policy aims that don’t actually address the core harm that’s being perpetrated on a population.

I liked this podcast since it went beyond political theatre to see how the actual problem could be solved. I recommend you give it a listen even if you don’t care about the student loan debate.


  1. I got a full ride scholarship and help from my mom. As a non American, my uninformed opinion is that it’s just whatever. Don’t think they’ll be a lot of economic benefit or damage given that repayments were suspended during the pandemic so the impact already happened. 10K is a lot of money for those with government loans, but as the podcast discusses, it doesn’t solve the issue of college affordability. To address the debt, income based repayment and forgiving loans of people who didn’t finish would help but the government should sue the shit out of shifty college and grad school programs, known as the “second biggest scam in higher education“↩︎