Trump’s Student Loan Plan is Bad Economics

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At a campaign stop in Columbus, Ohio, one month before Election Day, Donald Trump shared his plan for addressing voters’ growing concerns about student loan debt.Trump’s student loan repayment plan came late in the campaign cycle, long after Senator Bernie Sanders and Secretary Hillary Clinton released their respective plans, both of which would have increased government intervention in higher education, further distorting the already-convoluted education and student loan markets.

At the time of his speech, Trump’s proposal seemed likely to elicit support from voters, especially among millennials concerned about college affordability and rising levels of student loan debt. From 1980-2014, the cost of attending college rose by nearly 260%. Total student loan debt is nearing $1.25 trillion, and over forty-three percent of former students who borrowed from the federal government are in default, behind on their payments, or aren’t making payments on their federal student loans.

Free market advocates had hoped that Trump’s proposals would constructively tackle the causes of the student loan bubble. Alas, this was not to be. Instead, Trump’s plan bears more similarities to alternative plans released by Obama, Clinton, and Sanders than many conservatives would like to admit.

Called “the most liberal student loan repayment plan since the inception of the federal financial aid program” by The Washington Post, Trump’s proposal would cap repayment at 12.5% of a borrower’s discretionary income. Furthermore, a borrower’s remaining student loan balance would be forgiven after he or she makes their full payments for 15 years. While it’s possible that Trump has considered restoring the pre-2010 system, in which private banks (instead of the government) issue student loans, such loans would still be subsidized and guaranteed by the federal government, eliminating much of the risk that incentivizes banks to engage in prudent and sustainable lending.

Basic economic principles help us predict how Trump’s student loan plan would affect the greater economy and the financial welfare of individuals. At any given time, there exists a limited amount of funds available in capital markets. This capital can be directed toward any number of alternative uses (home loans, car loans, business loans, etc.). But government artificially boosts demand for student loans when it intervenes in the market by enabling student borrowers to repay less than the balance of their loan. This artificial demand for student loans bids capital away from alternative uses, making it more difficult for families and businesses to receive loans for other important purposes.

Moreover, the cost to taxpayers would be steep. The federal government (and, by extension, current and future generations of taxpayers) would be responsible for paying the remaining balance of everyone’s student loan debt after their loans are forgiven. Colleges and universities would grow even richer, receiving billions of dollars as wealth is redistributed from America’s taxpayers to its institutions of higher learning.

Today’s college tuition is so expensive because easy-to-acquire federal student loans have rapidly boosted demand for higher education. Unless supply keeps pace with demand, prices will inevitably rise. Millions of students have become burdened with previously unimaginable levels of student loan debt needed to finance schooling that has been made artificially expensive by government intervention.

If Trump had been sincerely concerned about college affordability and the soon-to-burst student loan bubble, his plan would have eliminated the federal student loan system entirely. As Jason Morgan predicted in his recent article for Mises Wire, “Without the artificial demand generated through taxpayer-funded subsidies, universities [would] be forced to lower their tuition prices to meet what students and their families are able and willing to pay. This new reality [would] force higher education institutions to adapt to the needs of students.”

Instead of addressing the underlying cause of the problem (namely, the inflated cost of education resulting from federal education subsidies), Trump’s proposal attempts to mitigate the regrettable effects of government’s intervention into the student loan market by forgiving the debt of millions of working professionals.

While Trump’s proposal might score him political points among millennials saddled with an excessive volume of student loan debt, it certainly doesn’t make good economic sense. We might momentarily feel better if our student loan payments are reduced and our balances are forgiven, but we will all be poorer because of it.


This article was originally published by The Mises Institute: https://mises.org/blog/trumps-student-loan-plan-treats-symptoms-not-disease.

College Admissions Director: Supporters of Traditional Marriage are “Worthless Pieces of Trash”

an_aerial_view_of_the_johnson_center_at_dawnColleges and universities are widely known to be hotbeds of liberal progressivism, but one public university administrator’s recent comments about supporters of traditional marriage are beyond the pale.

Andrew Bunting, George Mason University’s Senior Assistant Director of Admissions, shared his feelings about supporters of traditional marriage, calling them “worthless pieces of trash.”

The incident began last week when Bunting shared on Facebook a blog post written by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a grassroots organization that advocates for traditional marriage.

The blog post shares NOM’s desire to work with the Trump administration to protect religious liberty, nominate conservatives to the Supreme Court, overturn President Obama’s gender identity directives, and oppose efforts to redefine marriage.

Commenting on the blog post, Bunting parroted the Southern Poverty Law Center’s claim that NOM is a “hate group.”

He went on to write, “If you agree with [NOM about traditional marriage] then that is your opinion. Just know that to the rest of us, you are a worthless piece of trash.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is a far-left political group known for designating as a hate group any organization that supports traditional marriage. According to SPLC, mainstream pro-family organizations like the American Family Association, Family Research Council, and Liberty Counsel (Liberty University) are “extremist, anti-LGBT hate groups.”

Bunting’s comments reveal what Campus Reform has termed “liberal privilege” on college campuses. This “liberal privilege” on college campuses is evidenced by the way students who share conservative ideas are maligned and punished by professors and administrators, most of whom are radically progressive and many of whom are openly Marxist.

The groupthink on college campuses has gotten so bad that the conservative perspective often isn’t even shared with students. Conservative speakers are often disinvited from campus events, if they’re even invited at all. If conservatives do make it onto campus, they’re often verbally and physically abused by protesters comprised of students and faculty.

With college administrators like Bunting making incendiary comments disparaging half of the U.S. population, it’s no wonder that conservative students fear retaliation from liberal professors and administrators.

Additionally, given Bunting’s senior position in George Mason University’s admissions department, prospective students who happen to be conservative are probably left wondering whether they are welcome on campus, and if their political views will affect their admissions chances or opportunities for scholarships.

Bunting’s comments are even more troubling because GMU is a Virginia state public university. So far, it doesn’t look like he’ll be fired, despite his comments dehumanizing those who believe in traditional marriage.

Andrew Bunting’s views are representative of those held by college administrators in schools all over the country. Knowing that this is the predominant ideological perspective on most college campuses, it’s unsurprising that college students at the University of Washington and Seattle University say things like this and this.


This article was originally published by the Family Policy Institute of Washington.

Satanic Temple Infiltrates Tacoma Public School

joinusThe Satanic Temple’s efforts to infiltrate public schools seem to be making headway.

Point Defiance Elementary School, a public school in the Tacoma School District, has approved the Satanic Temple of Seattle’s request to start an “After School Satan Club” at the school. An informational meeting about the club will be held for parents, students, and teachers on December 14.

Point Defiance Elementary School’s decision to approve the “After School Satan Club” comes as Centennial Elementary School, a public school in Mount Vernon, WA, tries to decide how to respond to the Satanic Temple’s request to open a chapter at their school.

I’ve written before about the Satanic Temple’s attacks on “Good News Clubs,” an evangelical after school club that offers a forum for students who voluntarily want to learn about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Satanic Temple contends that it is unconstitutional for a school club to promote any religious belief. Responding to the success of “Good News Clubs” in schools across the country, the Satanic Temple has been targeting any school that allows a chapter of the evangelical club to meet after school by requesting that these schools also permit Satanic after school clubs. The implication, of course, is that schools open themselves up to legal liability if they refuse the request.

Obviously, the Satanic Temple’s argument is bunk. The constitutional framers and authors of the First Amendment wanted Christian morality to be taught in public schools. Moreover, in no way can the First Amendment be construed to prohibit voluntary after school clubs with a religious basis from operating in public schools.

The First Amendment does not give religious protections to secular political advocacy organizations like the Satanic Temple (Cavanaugh v. Bartelt, 2016). In the last several years, the Satanic Temple has garnered headlines for engaging in political stunts like distributing Satanic coloring books to elementary students, displaying Satanic nativity scenes on several state capitol grounds, and organizing “porn rooms.”

And while the Satanic Temple claims that it doesn’t literally worship Satan, its philosophy is permeated with radical self-exaltation and moral relativism, ideas usually associated with traditional Satanic thought. Its adherents, who rename themselves after demons and take part in nude rituals with overtly Satanic imagery, openly mock organized religion and attack the religious foundations of the American system of law in their effort to supplant our Judeo-Christian national heritage.

Schools shouldn’t be concerned about the Satanic Temple’s threats of litigation. Liberty Counsel, a religious liberty law firm, says it will provide pro-bono legal counsel to public schools that refuse the Satanic Temple’s request to start Satanic after school clubs. “School administrators do not have to tolerate groups that disrupt the school and target other legitimate clubs,” said Mat Staver, president of Liberty Counsel.

On the other hand, parents should be very concerned about the recent development that a local public school has given the green light to a Satanic club. Even most reasonable parents that don’t consider themselves overly religious would find the Satanic Temple’s promotion of promiscuity, self-exaltation, and rebellion against authority utterly distasteful. Parents of students in the Tacoma and Mount Vernon school districts should call and email their school officials and ask them to deny the Satanic Temple’s requests to open these clubs.


This article was originally published by Family Policy Institute of Washington.

Just Like Roe, Marriage Isn’t Settled, Despite What Trump Says

58177a15150000d804530d10In his first interview since winning the presidential election, President-elect Donald J. Trump assured the American people that he won’t advocate reversing the Supreme Court’s decision last year requiring states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Speaking with CBS News correspondent Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes, Donald Trump indicated that his administration will abandon efforts to overturn the controversial Obergefell decision. The news media has interpreted Trump’s support for same-sex marriage as a sign that the conservative movement has surrendered on the contentious issue.

“I’ve been a supporter [of the LGBT group],” Trump said in the interview this past Sunday. “[Marriage equality] is already settled. It’s law… These cases [regarding same-sex marriage] have gone to the Supreme Court, they’ve been settled, and I’m fine with that.”

In Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), the Supreme Court interpreted the Fourteenth Amendment as requiring states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The Court’s decision to force states to give equal treatment to same-sex marriages “has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in his dissent. “Under the Constitution, judges have power to say what the law is, not what it should be…. Five lawyers have closed the debate [about same-sex marriage] and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law.”

While President-elect Trump may be willing to accept the unconstitutional edict from the Supreme Court, Republicans and conservative Christians shouldn’t abandon efforts to restore traditional marriage.

Conservatives know that laws encouraging traditional nuclear families – consisting of a father, a mother, and their children – strengthen communities.

Furthermore, numerous sociological studies indicate that children raised within intact traditional families are healthier and happier. These children are also more likely to become successful, well-adjusted adults.

Our laws should reflect this social and biological reality. Just as our laws affirm that adultery and polygamy corrode the natural order and weaken families, so too should our laws reflect the truth that normalizing homosexual relationships isn’t conducive to maintaining a healthy society.

When trying to determine which approach should be used to oppose same-sex marriage, conservatives should be careful to avoid the pitfalls that derailed the movement against no-fault divorce. As states began adopting no-fault divorce laws during the 1970s and 1980s, many on the religious right articulately defended the sanctity of covenantal marriage, warning about the harm to children and communities caused by broken families.

Over time, however, the movement abandoned its role as prophet, conceding the issue of no-fault divorce to those who contended for the legal ability to divorce their spouse for any number of personal reasons. As religious conservatives began backing away from the issue, more states passed no-fault divorce laws, contributing to the near 50% divorce rate among married couples today.

Instead, conservatives concerned about the sanctity of marriage should mimic the tactics of the pro-life movement. Despite the monumental legal loss of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade (1973), people of faith have remained steadfastly opposed to the abortion on demand. Pastors, priests, and layman alike have lovingly explained how the inherent dignity of human life, created in the image of the Creator, disallows the notion that a mother has the right to choose to end her pregnancy. Likewise, researchers have published scientific studies detailing the capability of unborn babies to feel pain.

By mobilizing churches and congregations to advocate pro-life policies despite early legal losses, the pro-life movement has made significant gains over the last couple decades. In the wake of Obergefell, Christians should follow the model of political activism and social persuasion that has been so effectively utilized by the pro-life movement.

So here’s the bottom line, conservatives: Don’t give up on the sanctity of marriage just because the Republican in the White House refuses to get involved in the fight. We must continue agitating for a political order that better reflects natural law and the reality of the human experience, even when it’s not politically expedient. Sociologists, psychologists, other researchers should continue publishing empirical studies detailing how same-sex marriage adversely affects couples, children, and communities.

Marriage isn’t a lost cause. Although it may seem like society – including some prominent Republicans – is accepting the falsehood that same-sex marriage is a normal and healthy family arrangement, we must remain faithful to the truth, recognized for thousands of years, that marriage between one man and one woman forms the basis for resilient communities and healthy families.

Just like Roe v. Wade isn’t settled, same-sex marriage isn’t settled, either.


This article was originally published by the Family Policy Institute of Washington.

The Morning After.

America has decided. Mr. Trump will become President Trump on January 20, 2017. Until about 9:00 pm last night, I adamantly believed it was impossible. I was wrong.

Republicans and fellow conservatives: This is your opportunity to prove that principles supersede party by holding President Trump’s feet to the fire. The Republican that will occupy the White House is not a conservative. He doesn’t share your values. He’s not a fiscal conservative, he’s not a social conservative, and he’s not a constitutionalist.

Don’t relinquish your principles and values to defend the man in the White House. Don’t sacrifice years of hard work for momentary political gains. Don’t do anything that may compromise your character and your witness.

Our Constitution, our prosperity, and our traditional Judeo-Christian values are more important than defending the reputation of any one man. Don’t forget that.

It’s time to start praying that God gives wisdom, prudence, discernment, and protection to President-elect Donald J. Trump: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2:1-3).

Election Day.

No matter who wins the elections tonight, I will wake up tomorrow morning recommitted to continue fighting for economic liberty, religious liberty, and true justice. In season and out of season, I will keep sharing what the Bible says about the pertinent civil and social matters being debated in the public square. 

Ronald Reagan once reminded us that freedom is never more than one generation from extinction. We may be on the leading edge of dark times for our nation. But as the Apostle Paul tells us, “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9). 

God has given Americans a birthright of liberty. I, for one, will not squander the blessings of Divine Providence or the heritage of my forefathers. I ask that you join me and past generations, who were willing to sacrifice their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor, to defend what is true, right, and good. 

And after we have fulfilled our duty to God and our country, we can rest easy at night, knowing that our ultimate citizenship is in Heaven and that we serve the sovereign King of Kings whose Kingdom won’t be shaken.

“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated” (Thomas Paine, The Crisis).

What Would Life for Christians Look Like Under a Clinton Presidency?

hillaryclintonwikileaks_c0-120-3829-2352_s885x516During the second presidential debate, Gorbah Hamed, a Muslim woman, asked Donald Trump to address her fears about living as a Muslim in the United States following the presidential election.

This isn’t the first time the media has asked questions about what life for Muslims would look like under a Trump presidency, and rightly so. Ever since Trump infamously proposed banning Muslims from entering the United States, journalists have been eagerly raising questions about whether the Republican nominee is a closeted Islamophobe, anxiously awaiting the opportunity to deny Muslims their constitutional rights.

Ironically (or not, depending on your opinions about the news media), I haven’t yet heard journalists ask an analogous question of Secretary Clinton: What would life for Christians look like under a Clinton presidency?

What reasons has Mrs. Clinton given for Christians to be so concerned about their constitutional right to live according to the precepts of their faith and the dictates of their consciences?

First, Clinton supports coercive non-discrimination statutes that trample upon the consciences of religious organizations and Christian business owners.

In remarks made to an event hosted by the militantly anti-Christian Human Rights Campaign, Clinton voicedher support for the Federal Equality Act. Critics warn that the Federal Equality Act would dismantle the essential pillars of religious liberty protections by amending the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

If signed by President Clinton, the Federal Equality Act could be used to compel Christian colleges to allow transgender biological males to live in female dorms. Likewise, Christian ministries should expect penalties if they refuse to employ practicing homosexuals. And Catholic adoption agencies could lose their licenses to operate if they follow their Church’s teaching by refusing to provide their services to same-sex couples. (Catholic adoption agencies have already stopped operating in both Massachusetts and Illinois because of similar state non-discrimination laws – an unfortunate development for the tens of thousands of children waiting to be adopted every year).

Mrs. Clinton also decried the Supreme Court’s ruling that allows Christian-owned companies like Hobby Lobby to refrain from providing abortifacients to employees. She called the Supreme Court’s affirmation of the business owners’ right of conscience “deeply disturbing.”

Under a Clinton administration, religious organizations and Christian business owners who don’t agree with the federal government’s revolutionary legal assaults on life, marriage, and gender should anticipate being given two options: repudiate the doctrines of your faith or expect the fist of government to squash you.

Second, consider Hillary Clinton’s comments at the 2015 Women in the World Summit regarding abortion. In her keynote address, she expressed her regret that too many women are “denied” reproductive healthcare and expressly stated that “deep seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”

Christians find Clinton’s radical positions on abortion even more frightening when they realize that the Progressive Left, which is financing Clinton’s candidacy, supports using the federal government to force Christian doctors and hospitals to provide abortions, violating the most sacred human right protected by the First Amendment.

Third, Mrs. Clinton would nominate far-left judges who share her vision to limit the constitutional rights of Christians. The battle for religious liberty will be fought in court – and if Hillary Clinton is able to nominate judges of her choosing, that battle for religious liberty will be lost.

Christians have a lot to fear from a Clinton administration concerning their rights. Mrs. Clinton has made it clear that she’s not going to respect the constitutional protections of religious liberty, freedom of conscience, free speech, free association, and liberty of contract.

The mainstream media’s silence about Mrs. Clinton’s hostility toward the rights of Christians is revealing. Muslims are justifiably concerned about Mr. Trump rising to our nation’s highest office, and it is appropriate for the media to share those concerns with the public. So, too, are Christians justifiably concerned about Mrs. Clinton winning the election – but their concerns are being dismissed and buried by journalists with a political agenda.


This op-ed was originally published by Family Policy Institute of Washington.