Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

April 24, 2014

Taylor Armerding: Warren's populist pitch on student loans is off key

College graduates with a debt hangover could definitely use an advocate. The average graduate will leave college next month owing $30,000, and enter a still-mediocre job market.

But that advocate is not superstar freshman Sen. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, no matter how hard she tries to portray herself as such.

Warren’s goal is to distract graduates from the real source of their problem – runaway inflation of college costs, thanks in large measure to overpaid administrators and professors like her. The cost of higher education has increased by three to four times the overall rate of inflation, depending on who is doing the estimating, over the past three decades.

Warren, self-appointed champion of the middle class, knows all the populist talking points and slogans that appeal to students who are dazzled by her star power (enabled in significant measure by a fawning media) and don’t bother to look below the veneer.

Hence their vigorous applause at her recent speech at Suffolk University’s Law School, where she attacked “government profits” on student loans.

Warren painted student borrowers as victims of everybody but people like her.

“These students didn’t go to the mall and run up a bunch of charges on credit cards. They worked hard to learn new skills that will benefit this country. … They deserve our support, not an extra tax for trying to get an education,” said Warren. This from a woman who has never met a tax she didn’t like, as long as it is levied against those who have “worked hard” but ended up committing the sin of becoming successful outside of academia.

How would Warren “support” those students? As in the past, she issued a clarion call for lower interest rates on their loans; last year she tried to get them cut from 3.8 percent to 0.75 percent, something not even her Democratic colleagues would endorse. More recently, with another absurd slogan – “Do we invest in students, or millionaires?” – she called for another tax on millionaires, with the revenue to be used to cut interest rates on student loans.

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