April 3, 2024

Tis the season for giving — or, for some legislators, a good time to demand that the government force taxpayers to give others a large gift.

A few weeks ago, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to the house floor to issue another plea for the federal government to cancel nearly $1.7 trillion in student-loan debt. That is, she is demanding that taxpayers who didn’t go to college, or who didn’t take on large loans to go to college, pay off the often massive loans of those who did.

AOC argues that the student-loan system is ridiculous because at age 32 she still owes $17,000. But then she unwittingly puts her finger on the crux of the student-debt problem:

“It’s teenagers signing up for what is often hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt…” she said. “We give 17-year-olds the ability to sign on and sign up for $100,000 worth of debt, and we think that’s responsible policy.”

Of course it’s not responsible policy. Of course borrowing 100,000 smackers before you’re even old enough to vote is not sound decision-making. Of course it is a problem created and long enabled by lax federal student-borrowing policies.

A 2015 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found the increase in student loan availability correlates to nearly all of the increases in college tuition since 1987.

It’s not complicated: The more you allow young people to borrow, the more colleges jack up their costs — because colleges have known the borrowers will borrow more….

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