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Unions pressure Biden to waive student loan debt for government service workers

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Public sector unions, which together are considered by many as one of the most corrupt aspects of the U.S. federal government, have begun demanding that President Joe Biden’s administration forgive all of their student loans.

“A wide range of unions representing teachers, fire fighters, health care workers and government employees on Thursday called on Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to fully erase the debt of borrowers who have worked for more than a decade in public service jobs,” Politico reported Thursday.

“The unions say the relief is needed because the Education Department’s existing Public Service Loan Forgiveness program has been plagued by problems and mismanagement. More than 98 percent of applicants seeking loan forgiveness have been rejected by the program,” the report added.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness, or PSLF, is a Bush era program instituted in 2007 that grants some student loan debt relief to public workers who qualify. However, qualifying for the program requires meeting a lengthy list of prerequisites.

One of the prerequisites is that the applicants have completed at last 10 years of public work. Because the law was instituted in 2007, the first crop of eligible applicants didn’t emerge ’til 2017, the year that the Trump administration took over.

Predictably, complaints promptly began to emerge from unions and Democrat politicians that the Trump administration was to blame for “snags” that made it “difficult” for applicants to qualify, as reported in 2019 by Politico.

“Fifty-three percent of borrowers aren’t getting their loans forgiven because they don’t have enough qualifying payments, the Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid says in March data. Other reasons are missing information, 25 percent; loans not eligible, 16 percent; ineligible employment dates, 2 percent; or employer not eligible, 2 percent,” Politico’s report continued.

The Trump administration’s response was to push for the program’s elimination. As Rep. Virginia Foxx reportedly put it at the time, the program is a “socialist plank.”

Years later, the program still remains, and Biden has vowed to not only “fix” it, according to Politico, but he’s also promised to “expand the benefits.” Except public sector unions want more.

“Now the unions are pressing the Biden administration to go further and use executive action to swiftly provide automatic relief to public service workers. The letter says that the Education Department should use its emergency powers during the pandemic to waive any necessary regulations or laws to carry out the loan forgiveness,” according to Politico.

The problem is that Biden is rightly hesitant of using executive power to unilaterally forgive student loan debt.

That said, his Education Department has “canceled the debts of some students who were defrauded by their for-profit college and waived some of the paperwork requirements to ease loan forgiveness for borrowers with severe disabilities,” according to Politico.

And earlier this week the department reportedly halted collections on over a million borrowers who “had defaulted on federally-guaranteed student loans held by private entities.”

But again, none of this is enough for public sector unions, which have faced increasing scrutiny and criticism for the corrupt politics they practice.

Like the cartoon below by cartoonist Michael Ramirez (see more of his cartoons here) depicts, the unions have a “rub my  back, and I’ll rub yours” relationship with Democrat politicians.

Center of the American Experiment president John H. Hinderaker explained this phenomenon in a 2018 post.

“When politicians negotiate the pay and benefits of union members with union officials, who then turn around and contribute to the politicians’ campaigns, the inevitable result is corruption. In 21st century America, largely because of public sector unions, government itself has become our nation’s largest and most powerful special interest group,” he wrote.

Biden is himself a perfect example of this. A majority of his policy prescriptions have been blatant handouts to unions, including his call for “right to work” laws to be repealed, and his call for the gig economy to be eliminated. Both moves would be catastrophic for workers but beneficial for unions.

“Right to work” laws in particular protect workers by granting them the right to refuse to join a union and pay union dues. Without this right, unions would naturally accrue more members and thus more union dues, i.e., more money.

Much of that money would then likely be funneled directly to the Democrat Party. Remember the 2010 midterm elections? At the time, Newsmax confirmed that just one union alone — the 1.6 million-strong American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — had contributed $87.5 million total to Democrats.

And so if Biden wants to keep the money coming, he may very well feel compelled to break his stance on using executive power to relieve student loan debt.

As it stands, thus far he’s bent over backwards to unions every step of the way, even when bowing to their demands has meant hurting children.

Vivek Saxena

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