Letters to the Editor: Why canceling student loan debt could backfire on Democrats

A woman in businesswear talks on the phone as she enters a hall
Sen. Elizabeth Warren talks on her phone in the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 14, 2021. She has argued the Biden administration can forgive $1.6 trillion in student loan debt.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Far from being “a winner” for my fellow Democrats this November, student loan forgiveness could well be yet another nail in the party’s coffin, no matter how sound the arguments by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). (“Elizabeth Warren knows how Democrats can win the midterms. It starts with canceling student loan debt,” Opinion, April 21)

Why? Who could possibly be turned off by forgiving as much as $1.6 trillion in student loan debt? Four groups:

  • The 65% of American adults who do not have a college degree, many of whom are made to feel “dumb” in a society that exalts, some would say even fetishizes, higher education.
  • The millions of American adults who do have a college degree and paid off their loan debt.
  • Every American susceptible to the argument, “You pay your debts, so why should others get a freebie that lets them off the hook?”
  • Deficit hawks who believe the government needs a balanced budget.

The message President Biden issues if he forgives student loan debt must start with these words: “This is going to grind a lot of Americans’ gears. It will bother you, and that is completely understandable. But it is the right thing to do. Let me tell you why.”


David Van Iderstine, Los Angeles


To the editor: The best way to minimize student debt is to avoid it in the first place.

Absent that, the best way to address student debt issues would be to make student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy, as with other debt. Of course, the banks that issue private loans would fight this, because then they would need to review applicants much more closely and take on more risk.

In many cases, California students can avoid taking on a lot of debt by attending our outstanding community colleges, a California State University or a University of California. Low-income students pay minimal to no tuition, and all three systems have programs in place to help students with housing, childcare, books and other necessities.

For those open to a military career, ROTC programs offer full-ride scholarships, leadership training and jobs during school.

When I was a Cal State business instructor, I saw my students and family members work hard in order to pay for their education and graduate with minimal debt.

Laura Curran, Newport Beach



To the editor: So, it would be OK for Democrats to buy the votes of the 45 million Americans who owe $1.6 trillion in student loan debt?

With some sort of means testing for borrowers who default, I might find it less objectionable. But Warren’s shopping trip for voters is not limited to the indebted needy.

She would also cancel the debts of high-wage earners (and children from wealthy families) who willingly snapped up loans to pay for expensive private universities, perhaps with fingers crossed that the government would render those contracts invalid.

Facing Jean Guerrero’s column in the paper was a piece by columnist Nicholas Goldberg fulminating over Los Angeles mayoral candidate Rick Caruso’s efforts to effectively buy votes using his own money. If it is immoral to buy an election with one’s own money, how is it less reprehensible to do so with taxpayer money?

Janet Weaver, Huntington Beach