Phi Beta Cons

Re: Robbing the Elderly

Robert: I basically agree with you on that point. For one thing, we are transferring present costs to the young via our massive $16 trillion debt, which young people will be saddled with for generations.

What bothers me about the “hocus-pocus” (as Daniel Indiviglio put it) of the current student-loan rate fix has more to do with: A) How comfortable our government is in borrowing from one nearly bankrupt program in order to pay for another payout or benefit. It’s like raiding the Social Security trust fund — there’s a kind of political dishonesty involved in pulling designated funds from one program and dumping them into some other kind of special-interest payout. It’s a way of hiding the true cost of something and, ultimately, avoiding any real spending cuts for the present. B) I’m bothered by the fact that Obama made the student-loan bill a central issue in his reelection campaign. Yet in speech after speech, campaign rally after campaign rally, he never said anything about raiding an already deficit-laden pension guarantee fund in order to achieve a goal that was — at its core — nakedly political. Is it really worth raiding the pension fund for what is only a one-year extension of the lower interest rate? Or is all this intended simply to generate positive headlines for the president in an election year? This is an issue I go into more deeply today in a piece over at the NY Post.

Ultimately, the lesson is this: Politicians are quick to promise benefits to the public — but eventually someone, somewhere is going to have to pay the bill. And politicians are always looking for ways to hide or defer the bill until after the next election is over.

Most Popular

White House

The Problem Isn’t Just the GOP, Mr. Comey

During a CNN town hall on Wednesday night, James Comey alleged that the Republican party allows President Trump to get away with making inappropriate statements without holding him accountable. “If the Republicans, if they just close their eyes and imagine Barack Obama waking up in the morning saying someone ... Read More
Law & the Courts

‘Judges for the #Resistance’

At Politico, I wrote today about the judiciary’s activism against Trump on immigration: There is a lawlessness rampant in the land, but it isn’t emanating from the Trump administration. The source is the federal judges who are making a mockery of their profession by twisting the law to block the Trump ... Read More
White House

Trump’s Friendships Are America’s Asset

The stale, clichéd conceptions of Donald Trump held by both Left and Right — a man either utterly useless or only rigidly, transactionally tolerable — conceal the fact that the president does possess redeeming talents that are uniquely his, and deserve praise on their own merit. One is personal friendliness ... Read More
U.S.

Columbia 1968: Another Untold Story

Fifty years ago this week, Columbia students riding the combined wave of the civil-rights and anti-war movements went on strike, occupied buildings across campus, and shut the university down. As you revisit that episode of the larger drama that was the annus horribilis 1968, bear in mind that the past isn’t ... Read More
Culture

Only the Strident Survive

‘I am not prone to anxiety,” historian Niall Ferguson wrote in the Times of London on April 22. “Last week, however, for the first time since I went through the emotional trauma of divorce, I experienced an uncontrollable panic attack.” The cause? “A few intemperate emails, inadvertently forwarded ... Read More