Four years ago idealism and the symbolism of righting racial wrongs put Barack Obama into the White House. To stay there he's relying on the New Deal political methodology brilliantly summarized by top FDR aide Harry Hopkins: "Tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect."
That strategy has two weaknesses, though. First, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives hasn't rolled over on taxes and spending, so the opportunity to bribe voters is not optimal. Second, while pro-Obama media continue to offer the president their fealty, they haven't been able to avoid noting the dark side of some administration spending - including the huge losses of numerous Solyndras and the huge misery of many students who benefited temporarily from easy college loans and now stagger under them.
The New York Times on Saturday reported the dark side of Washington's takeover of the student loan business: One-out-of-six borrowers holding a loan balance is in default. With the federal government owed $76 billion and paying more than $1.4 billion each year to collection agencies and investigators, students are finding that "hiding from the government is not easy."
The Times quoted one young woman, Amanda Cordeiro, who has more than $55,000 in overdue loans and receives up to seven calls each day from debt collectors. The Times noted, "Unlike private lenders, the federal government has extraordinary tools for collection that it has extended to the collection firms. Ms. Cordeiro has already had two tax refunds seized, and other debtors have had their paychecks or Social Security payments garnished."
Pro-Obama students were pleased in 2010 when Democrats revamped the student loan program so federal loans come directly from the government - but Washington can be a harsh taskmaster, and "There is no statute of limitations on collecting federally guaranteed student loans, unlike credit cards and mortgages." The prophet Samuel warned Israelites three millennia ago that their desire for big government would come back to haunt them, and some student voters for Obama are learning the same lesson today.
Of course, one way out is for the government to declare a jubilee for all who have defaulted on college loans: What's $76 billion more when we're already $16 trillion in debt? Of course, if those debtors are left off the hook, many who aren't defaulting will decide they don't want to be suckers - but what's a further trillion among friends (like our Chinese comrades)?