Paul Begala: What the hell is my party thinking with this student loan forgiveness plan?

Source: Hot Air

I regret to inform you that Paul Begala is good now.

Good enough to recognize indefensible policy when he sees it, at least.

I stumbled across this tweet yesterday and laughed. See if you can come up with a reason this proposal is less justifiable than what Biden did with student loans. I can’t:

If Democrats can arbitrarily reward a core constituency like college graduates, why can’t the GOP do the same with one of its own core constituencies, married couples with big families? Surely the policy case for relieving big families of mortgage debt is at least as strong as relieving couples making $249,000 a year of student loan debt. Incentivizing adults to have bigger families will grow the population and create more workers to support the entitlement state going forward. Incentivizing adults to rack up ever higher debt in pursuit of a college degree will grow the bank accounts of college administrators, allowing them to buy second homes. Which sounds better?

Begala doesn’t like the class politics here and I don’t blame him. A giveaway to the well-off is bad but a giveaway to the well-off that’ll be paid for by the working class is not the message I’d select for a party that’s been losing working-class voters to the GOP.

“For that amount of money, you could fund free Pre-K for every 3 and 4-year-old for 10 years,” Begala said elsewhere in this segment. “You’d do a lot more good for poor people, communities of color and the underprivileged by doing Pre-K. You could forgive all medical debt, which unlike student debt is not freely entered into.”

What’s the answer to that? If we’re going to go deeper into debt as a country to make it rain for certain groups of Americans at random, what’s the moral case for prioritizing a college graduate making $100,000 annually over someone carrying $10K in medical debt because they had an unexpected health crisis while they were underinsured?

Is there any argument for sending college grads to the front of the line for a government “get out of debt free” card apart from the fact that they vote Democratic on balance? Is there any argument for not extending that largesse to new college students who are ineligible for the program because they missed a made-up deadline?

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a policy on this scale, certainly not one ordered unilaterally by the president, that doesn’t even attempt to offer a coherent moral argument in its defense. When Obama announced DACA, he at least had a straightforward moral case for doing so: The children of illegal immigrants came to the U.S. not of their own volition, many of them have no memory of any other country, therefore it’s only fair to let them stay permanently. Biden’s moral case for student loan forgiveness is, essentially, that debt’s a bummer and one very specific type of debt is more of a bummer than others because Reasons.

The fact that the left has resorted to idiocy like this to try to justify the policy shows you how hard up they are for convincing arguments in its defense. Although, when push comes to shove, I don’t think they much care if they fail to persuade anyone. The euphoria over Biden’s announcement has to do with the precedent it sets more so than the merits of the policy. If Uncle Sam can capriciously redistribute half a trillion dollars in wealth to one favored left-wing constituency, surely it can redistribute much more than that in the future to more sympathetic constituencies.

In that sense, the fact that the student loan giveaway is so hard to justify is a point in its favor among liberals. Future giveaways will be easier to justify now that the bar has been set so low.

I wish I had Begala’s confidence that the policy will be a loser for Democrats. It probably will hurt Tim Ryan in Ohio, for instance, but Ryan was always a longshot in a solidly red state. How will it play nationally? I posted this Emerson data yesterday as evidence that it might not be the heavy liability that it should be:

CBS published these new numbers yesterday afternoon, earning a favorable tweet from Ron Klain:

The fact that student loan forgiveness is broadly popular doesn’t mean that it’s deeply popular. All sorts of gun-control policies are broadly popular but it’s the opponents of those policies whose feelings run deep and who are more apt to turn out to vote to express those feelings. Student loan forgiveness could cost Democrats votes on balance even if the issue polls well.

But how many of those votes were already banked for Republicans on grounds like inflation, high crime, out-of-control immigration, and so on? The White House is making a calculated political gamble here that bribing college grads will bring more of those grads out to the polls — especially disaffected younger grads — than will flip formerly Democratic votes to Republicans. In a just world they’d lose that bet, but in the world we live in, who wants to bet on Americans doing the right thing?