Phi Beta Cons

WSJ Editorial on the Student-Loans Bill

I give the WSJ’s editorial writers an A for their piece (alas, subscribers only) today on the student-loan bill shoved through Congress along with Obamacare. They correctly explain that the legislation will not lower costs to taxpayers because any savings from getting out of the subsidized private lending system will be more than eaten up in the anticipated expansion of direct federal loans. Here’s the excellent concluding paragraph:

As for the cost of college, expect it to become even less affordable as the subsidies keep flowing. The main achievements of this new legislation will be to give more power to government, and to transfer more of the costs and risks of college financing to taxpayers. There’s no such thing as a free entitlement.

Naturally, the president and his spokesmen will say that this is a good bill because it will expand “access” to college. The trouble with that is the assumption that processing more kids through college is in the national interest. It isn’t. As I have pointed out on more than a few occasions, we already have a glut of college graduates in the labor force, many of them doing jobs that demand no study in any academic discipline, but just trainability. Keeping more kids in school longer is unlikely to make them smarter or more productive. It will, however, keep them out of the unemployment ranks for a while, and the administration doesn’t mind spending more tax dollars to achieve that.

George Leef — George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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