As the student loan bubble steams along towards the $1.5 trillion mark, pundits, researchers, and even (gasp) ratings agencies are starting to sound the alarm. While everyone is (as usual), around three years behind when it comes to admitting what’s been outlined extensively in these pages, we’re at least glad to see that the world is waking up to the fact that i) $1.3 trillion is a lot of money, ii) delinquency rates are far higher than the headline figures suggest, iii) students are never, repeat never, going to repay all of this, and iv) it is taxpayers who will eventually foot the bill.
To the latter point there, the calls for across-the-board debt “forgiveness” have already started and even if they hadn’t, and even if The White House weren’t looking at ways to make the discharge of student debt “more efficient” in bankruptcy, there are a number of reasons to believe that when it’s all said and done, taxpayers will be on the hook at least for hundreds of millions and more probably for hundreds of billions. Consider for instance that the cost of closing just one for-profit college could well run more than $200 million in federal loan forgiveness. Then there’s IBR (that’s “Income Based Repayment") in which borrowers whose disposable income isn’t deemed sufficient when it comes to making monthly payments have the remainder of their loan forgiven after 25 years. There’s literally no way to know what the cost to taxpayers will ultimately be from IBR plans, but what we do know is that an increase in the number of borrowers opting for some kind of IBR plan is one reason why Moody’s thinks some $3 billion in student loan-backed paper may be at risk for default.
So against this backdrop, America needs a plan, because as we’re fond of reminding people, one person’s liability is another person’s asset, meaning debt is never really “cancelled”, it’s just written off at some else’s expense. Ideally, opportunities in the job market and a robust economy would allow new graduates to obtain high-paying, full-time jobs which would in turn allow them to pay down their loans, but since that isn’t going to happen any time soon, we’re open to suggestions.
Fortunately, Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has a plan that will ensure future generations of taxpayers aren’t stuck paying for their parents' college degrees: simply tax investors so the entire country can go to school for free.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wants to take from the rich in order to make public college tuition-free for everyone else.
On Tuesday, the Vermont senator will hold a press conference in the nation's capital at which he will introduce a plan to use a so-called Robin Hood tax on stock transactions to fund tuition at four-year public colleges and universities.
Sanders' bill sets a 50-cent tax on every "$100 of stock trades on stock sales, and lesser amounts on transactions involving bonds, derivatives, and other financial instruments," the group Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street said Monday in a press release.
"The Robin Hood tax would also slow the growth of automated high frequency trading, which makes the stock market more dangerous," the press release stated. "A small tax would make risky HFT unprofitable, and help reduce the excess speculation on commodities like food and gas that drives up prices, which will protect the economy from computer-generated collapses and market manipulation."
Sanders, who is the only candidate so far to mount a formal primary challenge to Hillary Clinton, argues that making college tuition-free will help America compete in the global marketplace.
"We live in a highly competitive global economy and, if our economy is to be strong, we need the best-educated work force in the world," he said in a press release on Sunday. "That will not happen if, every year, hundreds of thousands of bright young people cannot afford to go to college, and if millions more leave school deeply in debt."
There you go. Problem solved. We’ll leave it to readers to judge what kind of reception that plan is likely to get from GOP lawmakers, but we will venture to propose an alternative: make market rigging algos fund the education of the nation’s best and brightest by taxing all canceled orders. Then again, that plan would only generate revenue for one day because it would put the HFT crowd out of business overnight.