Lending to ourselves

Instead of buying student loans, the federal government should subsidize higher education.

The Bush administration, along with the U.S. House of Representatives, wants the federal government to buy billions of dollars in federal student loans to ensure the nation’s recent economic downturn does not block borrowing for higher education for students and their families.

The federal government, as a result, is expanding as it did in the 1930s. But in reaction to the economic recession of this past year, the federal government has instead instituted varying government bailouts – from tax rebates to saving the investment bank Bear Stearns from collapse to wanting to buy student loans. These bailouts are temporary, staving off further economic downturn only for the time being – they are not directly addressing problems such as increasing jobless rates, outsourcing or changing industries for workers and independence in energy.

Whereas the New Deal created jobs where there were no jobs and provided increased education and job-training to the undereducated and undertrained, the Bush administration and Congress are only willing to throw money at private institutions. While private businesses certainly drive the economy, money lenders, such as Bear Stearns, are partially to blame for the current recession because of financial risks that did not pay off. If the federal government were to buy student loans from lenders, then students and families would be borrowing tax dollars to pay for higher education – essentially lending our money back to ourselves with interest. Instead of using billions of dollars of the public’s money to guarantee student loans, the government should use this money to lower tuition costs at public universities. An educated public is in the best interest of each American. And as each year passes, more and more Americans will be priced out of a college education.

The American dream allows each American the opportunity to fail and the opportunity to succeed. As the federal government has shown it is willing to save the wealthy from failure. It must also then be willing to support the rest of the public to succeed.