Today, 2020 presidential contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren dropped yet another amazing (and amazingly detailed) policy, this time addressing the student loan crisis.
Student loan debt is crushing millions of families. That’s why I’m calling for something truly transformational: Universal free college and the cancellation of debt for more than 95% of Americans with student loan debt. Read all about it here: https://t.co/IG9J5CiNb7
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) April 22, 2019
Warren’s plan would give those burdened with student loan debt $50,000 towards canceling that debt, paid for by a 2% wealth tax on the richest 75,000 households in America. It’s a crucial part of her plan to make college more affordable by providing free public educations for two- and four-year-degrees.
Unfortunately, Phillip Klein of the Washington Examiner saw Warren’s plan as less of a cure-all for the staggering price of college and more of a gimmicky insult for those who paid off their overpriced degrees.
New post: "Elizabeth Warren's plan to cancel student loan debt would be a slap in the face to all those who struggled to pay off their loans" https://t.co/4g6No2MRVm
— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) April 22, 2019
In his post, Klein calls Warren’s well thought-out policy a “pander” and accuses Warren of trying to buy-off millennial voters. He also (bizarrely) details precisely why her policy is needed. Klein writes,
“Right now, more than a third of millennials have student loan debt, and studies have shown that the debt is leading them to delay major life decisions including purchasing a house, saving for retirement, and even getting married and having kids.”
Sounds like a pretty big problem that’s dragging down 42 million Americans and the economy as well. Not to Klein, who believes there could maybe possibly be some people who shouldn’t benefit from the plan. “Those who were more responsible will feel justifiably enraged at the idea that those who may have been more profligate will now get a bailout from the government,” Klein says.
People on Twitter were thrilled with Warren’s plan and were, uh, less thrilled with Klein’s dumb take on it, so they let him know.
are you fucking kidding me with this shit https://t.co/gFtwEqA2zA
— blaine capatch (@blainecapatch) April 22, 2019
Some of us want to improve lives for future generations. The idea that we got fucked, so they should get fucked, is fucked. So Philip, get fucked! https://t.co/PQPamvfuw0
— Adam Newman (@Adam_Newman) April 22, 2019
Surprisingly caught off guard by the, “We can’t make things better because it’d be insulting to those whose lives already sucked” takes.
— MehGyver (@AndrewNadeau0) April 22, 2019
Folks applied Klein’s own logic to small things, like potholes and toilet paper…
New post: "Fixing pothole is a slap in the face to all those who struggled to drive over it." https://t.co/okWx2HZt9x
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) April 22, 2019
The invention of the car is a slap in the face to all those who died of typhus while traversing the Oregon Trail https://t.co/gnQ46EmeAN
— Jason O. Gilbert (@gilbertjasono) April 22, 2019
My latest: Paving roads is an insult to horse-drawn wagons.
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) April 22, 2019
New post: “Replacing the toilet paper roll in the bathroom would be a slap in the face to those of us with shit encrusted assholes” pic.twitter.com/h75zIKroSR
— Emily Heller (@MrEmilyHeller) April 22, 2019
As well as big things, like smallpox, slavery, and cancer.
The new smallpox vaccine is a slap in my pockmarked face. https://t.co/xin3DvhgSG
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) April 22, 2019
“Abolishing slavery would be a slap in the face to all those who struggled to buy their freedom”https://t.co/jpnINMudvW
— Ken Klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) April 22, 2019
Child labor regulations a slap in the face to children who worked in coal mines https://t.co/llwzoNn1zB
— Osita Nwanevu (@OsitaNwanevu) April 22, 2019
"Curing cancer is a tremendous insult to those who have struggled in the past with the diseases. Sen. Warren should understand that everyone must suffer the ravages of the disease, rather than be rewarded with a socialist cure." https://t.co/mdNvwt2cUg
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) April 22, 2019
New post: Social Security is a slap in the face to all those seniors who worked til they died in poverty. https://t.co/zhMgtN7BjD
— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) April 22, 2019
I worked so hard to repay my student loan debt. I never went on vacation. Never bought a new car. Didn’t indulge in anything except maybe some new sneakers. For years.
Fucking cancel that debt. https://t.co/HylYGvSLIz
— Ian Karmel (@IanKarmel) April 22, 2019
And there are plenty of people who paid off their student loans and still don’t want to see the next generation crushed under a mountain of debt.
I’ve paid off over $70,000 in student loans. I hope no one else ever has to.
— Every Billionaire Is A Policy Failure (@DanRiffle) April 22, 2019
As someone who paid off my 175k student debt earlier this year, you can go fuck yourself with this shit Phillip. No one deserves to have to deal with what I did for a decade. And for the record, I only paid it off bc I married a rich person. https://t.co/Cl4NMPVKTU
— Travis Helwig (@travishelwig) April 22, 2019
I paid back my student loans while working minimium wage at Gamestop. And amazingly, I don’t want other people to suffer like I did.
“I was abused by this system so you should be too,” is a terrible argument. https://t.co/UnyqPqB30y
— Brianna Wu (@BriannaWu) April 22, 2019
Klein addressed the outrage over his piece, using the cancer example (but ignoring others). He (rightly!) points out that forgiving debt doesn’t deal with the underlying cause of the problem (skyrocketing tuition), but Warren has a plan for that as well. Where he does mention Warren’s other policy proposals, he only addresses the price tag to (baselessly) claim Warren would have to raise middle class taxes in order to fund other initiatives (like her child-care policy). But this simply isn’t true, as some back-of-the-envelope math from Jeff Stein shows.
Looks like @ewarren has $$$ to play with?
– 2% wealth tax on ⬆$50 million = $2.75T
– 7% tax on corporate profits ⬆$100M = $1T
– Cancel student debt/free college = $1.25T
– Universal childcare = $700B
– Housing bill (3 million units)= $500B
— Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) April 22, 2019
Klein then sermonizes about the hypothetical moral hazard of allowing people to graduate from college without some good old-fashioned character-building debt. “This sends a horrible signal,” he writes. “that there’s no reason to be a sucker and manage money wisely now, because at the end of the day, the government will always be there to step in.”
But what about the actual hazard of demanding students saddle themselves with debt to make a living, regardless of whether they can pay it off? What about the people who—right now—are working dead-end jobs, struggling to make ends meet, and delaying motherhood and fatherhood?
I guess none of that matters to Klein and anyone else who wants to maintain an increasingly unsustainable status quo.