Is Student Loan Forgiveness Really the ‘Rich Kid Bailout’ a GOP Ad Claims?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and reading Punchbowl News, when I came across this item.

The American Action Network, the non-profit aligned with House Republican leadership, is running a new spot calling President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive student loans a “rich kid bailout.” The spot is running in Denver, New York, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Detroit, D.C., Pittsburgh, Phoenix and Charlotte.

Is that true, Doc – half a trillion taxpayer dollars to make Richie Rich . . . richer? What the hell?

– Loan Wolf

Dear Wolfie,

That’s a legit question, given Lorie Konish’s CNBC report that “the average burden per U.S. taxpayer for the new federal student debt cancellation will be $2,503.22, according to new estimates from the National Taxpayers Union, a fiscally conservative advocacy group.”

Then again, that figure is wildly deceptive, as the CNBC piece itself clearly indicates. First of all, “[the] estimated cost per taxpayer is based on the assumption that policymakers would need to make up for the total tally of the forgiveness through tax increases, spending cuts, borrowing or a combination of those strategies.” Fiscal projections don’t get much vaguer than that.

Beyond that, consider the actual breakdown of who would pay what.

Low-income taxpayers, earning less than $50,000, would have an average additional cost per taxpayer of $190. That would increase to about $1,040 for those with adjusted gross incomes between $50,000 and $75,000; $1,774 for those between $75,000 and $100,000; and $3,791 for incomes of $100,000 to $200,000.

Taxpayers who make between $200,000 and $500,000 would have an average additional cost of $11,940.

Not to mention, the estimated costs would be spread out over ten years.

With those numbers in mind, let’s look at the American Action Network TV spot.

So we have an auto mechanic, a landscaper, and a waitress – all good Americans, the Doc gladly stipulates, and all worthy of our respect.

But . . .

Let’s be generous and assume they all make $100,000 a year. That means they’d pony up $1,774 over ten years, or $177.40 per annum, or 48¢ a day.

So that whole “my family will figure out how to get by with less” kind of boils down to “I can park on Newbury Street for eight fewer minutes every day.”

The White House says that among borrowers who are no longer in school, nearly 90% of the relief will go to those earning less than $75,000 a year. Others dispute that. You can sort it out for yourself here.

But one thing’s for sure: Richie Rich ain’t getting rich off this particular bailout.