This commentary is by Paul Dame, chair of the Vermont GOP.
Last week we saw another example of how Democrats have a fundamentally different approach to solving problems than Republicans do. Despite Speaker Pelosi telling us he didn’t have the authority a few months ago, President Biden unilaterally paid for some portions of student loans using taxpayer money.
Putting aside for a moment the priority that Democrats have given to the increasing student loans, over other things like public safety, fixing the supply chain and creating housing that is affordable, there are a few problems with the way that Democrats addressed this issue, which establishes a pattern they use on other issues.
The difference is that Democrats are happy to treat symptoms, while Republicans want to treat the cause. Democrats know that a lot of people are paying money to student loans, and this makes it harder to make ends meet. So they just throw money at the symptom, namely the loan payment.
This policy has several significant shortfalls. First it doesn’t help anyone who didn’t go to college, never took out a loan, paid back their loan, or is going to start taking out loans in the future. Secondly it will only help with a portion of the loan, and depending on the total balance, it might not feel like very much. Any reasonable person must look at this and admit that it is only a temporary solution because it’s creating short-term relief for a few, but allows the problem to manifest itself requiring a second or third action in the future.
Republicans look at this problem from an entirely different perspective, and want to address the root problems, of which I believe there are two. First the cost of a college education has skyrocketed far beyond almost any other category of spending, and second the fact that many of the borrowers are having trouble using their degree to earn the kind of income that would make repayment easy.
When you break a leg you could just prescribe painkillers to treat the pain – or you could fix the broken bone. In the student loan example Democrats have taken a short-sighted approach that only creates a bigger problem down the road.
Republicans instead are asking why are colleges getting so much more expensive faster than everything else? The payment problem is a result of the initial cost problem. But there also may be a problem with the underlying value. Some college grads are able to get a job and pay off the loan quickly given their higher income – while that may be true for many, it’s not true for all. We also need to examine whether some of these universities are acting like predatory lenders by giving out loans to people they should rightly know can not pay them back based on their employment prospects.
Democrats champion episodic fixes, while Republicans look for enduring and systematic corrections. This applies to many other issues. On the issue of illegal immigration, Democrats want to provide amnesty for anyone entering illegally, but they don’t want to fix the ongoing systemic problem of the open border. On health care, they want to shift the payments to the government, but don’t want to examine the ongoing systemic reason costs are so high, like monopolization, excessive bureaucracy and tort reform.
A well known Democrat once said to “never let a crisis go to waste” and this ethic becomes apparent in the way they have been solving problems by always addressing only the symptoms of the crisis. Because leaving the crisis in place gives big government another reason to get credit for fixing the problem it created in the future and it avoids the question as to whether or not the cause of the crisis is connected to some previous Democrat policy. It’s time to put an end to this pattern of managing from crisis to crisis and give Republicans an opportunity this November to put in place longer term fixes to the root cause of many of the problems we face in our state and country.