Presidential candidate and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) joined a chorus of Republicans in opposing President Obama’s proposal to help college students and graduates get out from under crushing student loan debt. She followed former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) and pizza magnate Herman Cain (R) in announcing her opposition last night at an education forum hosted by News Corporation and the College Board in New York.
Gingrich called the plan a “Ponzi scheme,” while Cain claimed the student loan industry should be managed by the states. Bachmann, however, took a different stand, saying Obama’s plan was an “abuse of power” that would create a “moral hazard” for the nation’s college students:
“I believe it is abuse of power from the executive to impose via an executive order a wholesale change in the student loan,” Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman, said during an education forum in New York put on by The College Board and News Corp.
Bachmann said the change creates a “moral hazard” when it comes to student debt.
“There is a morality in keeping our financial promises, and I don’t think we should push that off onto the taxpayer,” she said. “The individual needs to repay and be responsible for repaying their student loan debt.”
The “moral hazard” that would result in not keeping “our financial promises,” however, isn’t based on the actual plan Obama proposed, since it forgives very little debt that students owe, and only then after borrowers have been paying their loans for twenty years. (The old requirement for forgiveness eligibility was 25 years.) Mostly, the plan lowers monthly payments — by hundreds of dollars for many students — by putting a cap on the amount that must be paid back each month.
As for it being an abuse of power, Obama’s executive order doesn’t create a “wholesale change” in student loans, it merely accelerates the implementation of a law passed by Congress last year, putting it into effect in 2012 instead of 2014.
Instead of providing a credible, truthful reason to oppose the plan, Bachmann has chosen to join her Republican colleagues in their continuing effort to make it harder for low- and middle-income Americans to go to college. Student loan debt is expected to top $1 trillion this year and tuition costs are rising across the country, but the GOP’s method of addressing such problems includes cutting billions in funding for Pell Grants and opposing multiple student loan reforms.