Student Loan Debt is Stealing Our Future

May 14, 2013 | | The Guardian |

Last week, Senator Elizabeth Warren debuted her inaugural legislative effort, a bill intended to stop the cost of federally subsidized student loans from doubling from 3.4% to just under 7% on 1 July. Warren's solution? A one-year temporary fix that would allow students and their parents to borrow money for higher education at the same rate the Federal Reserve charges banks for short-term loans, which is about 0.75%.

More than a few pundits caterwauled. Not serious, they said. A grandstanding politician looking for a few cheap publicity plaudits, they complained. "Her usual class warfare bias," sniffed right-wing website NewsBusters. "A populist values statement," complained Megan McCardle at The Daily Beast. "We like students, we don't like banks."

Stunt or no, Warren's bill has a particularly good raison d'etre.

It offers a clear demonstration of whose interests our political system prioritizes – and, no, it's not the ambitious students seeking to get ahead.

As Tamara Draut, author of Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead and vice president of the progressive think tank Demos, put it: "The legislation has jumpstarted a much needed conversation about the cost of federal student loans, and put congressmembers who want to jack up the rates of federal loans in the difficult position for arguing for better treatment of the big banks than of students."