COBURN: The scope of what I’m suggesting is bold, necessary, and reasonable. We’re cutting fat, not muscle or bone. We can easily take several inches from our wasteline. This plan offers to reduce the size of the government 20 percent. It’s nine trillion out of 45, 46 trillion over the next ten years.
While some elements of Coburn’s plan have merit and should be applauded — the trillion dollars in defense cuts he calls for mirror progressive proposals — there are some elements of the plan that would certainly cut more than just “fat” from the federal budget.
For example, Coburn calls for privatizing the Direct and Perkins loans programs offered by the federal government and “eliminating” all “remaining federal postsecondary programs” except for discretionary Pell Grants and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants:
End the Direct and Perkins loan programs so student loans are made by exclusively by private lending institutions without federal debt issuance or federal subsidy. This proposal calls for a transition period to ensure student loan funding is not abruptly disrupted. With projections that the Direct Loan program will issue nearly $1.4 trillion in public debt over the next decade to fund student loans, this change would achieve significant savings for the taxpayer. [...] Eliminate all remaining federal postsecondary programs except for the discretionary Pell Grant program and the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants which provide grant funding to children who had a parent died in Iraq or Afghanistan, and who do not receive the traditional Pell grant.
According to data from the Department of Education, 15.2 million students benefited from Federal Direct and Perkins Loans alone in 2010. It’s unclear how Coburn expects the privatization of these lending services to work, but if history is any judge, these privatized loans will be more expensive for both students and taxpayers. And this doesn’t even account for the millions of other students who benefit from the other postsecondary programs that Coburn wants to eliminate. One has to wonder if these students consider their education “fat” to be cut from the federal budget.