Forgiving Student Debt Isn’t Giving a Gift — It’s Righting a Wrong

Thom Hartmann
7 min readJun 17, 2022

Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) along with 55 colleagues just sent a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona requesting both details and rapid action on President Biden’s campaign promise to forgive student debt in America.

When you search on the phrase “student debt forgiveness” one of the top hits that comes up is a Fox “News” article by a woman who paid off her loans in full.

“There are millions of Americans like me,” the author writes, “for whom debt forgiveness is an infuriating slap in the face after years of hard work and sacrifice. Those used to be qualities we encouraged as an American culture, and if Biden gets his way, we’ll be sending a very different message to the next generation.”

This is, to be charitable, bullsh*t. Forgiving student debt is not a slap at anybody; it’s righting a moral wrong inflicted on millions of Americans by Ronald Reagan and his morbidly rich Republican buddies.

Student debt is evil. It’s a crime against our nation, hobbling opportunity and weakening our intellectual infrastructure. Any nation’s single biggest asset is a well-educated populace, and student debt diminishes that. It hurts America.

Student debt at the scale we have in America doesn’t exist anywhere else in the rest of the developed world. It didn’t exist here in America before the Reagan Revolution. It was created here in the 1980s, intentionally, and we can intentionally end it here and join the rest of the world in again celebrating higher education.

Forty years on from the Reagan Revolution, student debt has crippled two generations of young Americans: over 44 million people carry the burden, totaling a $1.8 trillion drag on our economy that benefits nobody except the banks earning interest on the debt.

But that doesn’t begin to describe the damage student debt has done to America since Reagan, in his first year as governor of California, ended free tuition at the University of California and cut state aid to that college system by 20 percent across-the-board.

After having destroyed low income Californians’ ability to get an education in the 1970s, he then took his anti-education program national as president in 1981.

When asked why he’d taken a meat-axe to higher education and was pricing college out of the reach of most Americans, he said that college students were…

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Thom Hartmann

America’s #1 progressive talk show host & NY Times bestselling author. Thom’s writings also appear at HartmannReport.com.