Letter to the Editor: Toomey doesn’t get it

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey doesn’t get it. For most hardworking Americans it’s no secret that student loan debt is becoming one of our nation’s most pressing national crises. Americans now suffer approximately $1.2 trillion in student loan debt. This is significantly higher than either auto loan or credit card debt.

In particular it has affected the millennial generation to such an extent that they are drastically delaying things prior generations took for granted like investing in houses, starting a family and buying cars. In turn, this hamstrings our consumer driven economy. Due to tremendous student debt there is less enrollment in professional and graduate school programs which means we may be falling behind in an increasingly competitive global market.

Despite these harsh facts, Sen. Toomey doesn’t seem to understand or simply doesn’t care. He has consistently voted against any student debt relief legislation to include providing interest rate caps and stopping interest rate hikes on several proposed bills. He seems to focus more on the fact that banks no longer get windfall profits from federally guaranteed student loans, a program that ended in 2010. And that the standard way of accounting for the cost of the federal Direct Loan Program does not make it look as expensive as other ways to track costs. We would all be better off if he cared more about middle class borrowers and less about Wall Street bankers.

The president’s proposal to make a community college education free to everyone, if done well, has real promise to reduce the need to borrow or at least to borrow less. However, for those who already have student loan debt and for those who will borrow in the future, Congress can make a few simple changes that will make living with this loan debt a bit easier.

Repealing the 2005 law that made it extremely difficult to discharge federally and private student loans through bankruptcy is a step in the right direction. The federal government gained almost nothing through this law. The benefit to banks was that it made the risk of investments based on student loans look more secure, which helped pave the way to the Great Recession.

Bankruptcy is bad enough, and most Americans – at least those who are not corporations – would rather not go that route by choice. For those who have no choice, lingering debt just makes it more difficult for them to once again become fully productive citizens.

Chris Pielli
West Chester

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