Student loan debt is likely the biggest obstacle facing young Americans as they embark on their journey from student to a productive citizen, hoping to forge themselves a place in society from the blazing, duplicitous fires of global capitalism. Far too many of us are burdened by those loans long into the future; some face loans they cannot possibly pay back, while others simply cannot make ends meet and end up sliding backwards, forced into a retreat by the immoral usury of Wall Street.
President Obama, recognizing the debt crisis facing our nation, has taken a decisive stand and has issued a sweeping mandate to the Department of Education: level the playing field. The Obama administration just announced plans to forgive a whopping $7.7 billion of student loan debt from permanently disabled Americans. Nearly 400,000 people will find their loans forgiven – 179,000 of them are currently defaulting and would soon see their wages or Social Security checks garnished if no action was taken.
Earlier efforts to ease the burden on disabled Americans by allowing them to use their Social Security designation to apply for a discharge of loans, but not enough people took advantage of it for the plan to be effective. “Too many eligible borrowers were falling through the cracks, unaware they were eligible for relief. Americans with disabilities have a right to student loan relief. And we need to make it easier, not harder, for them to receive the benefits they are due” said Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell.
This is a desperately needed and eternally appreciated move from the President. Instead of attempting to rectify the broken process already in place, Obama has made a bold statement by sending a message to disabled Americans: you are not forgotten, and nor are we ignorant of your struggle. While Republicans in Congress hem and haw over allocating a few million dollars to fight epidemics like the Zika virus, President Obama has delivered the message that the American people that us, and our well-being, are more important than any self-righteous and inherently hypocritical appeals to fiscal austerity that this move will inevitably receive from Tea Party Republicans.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.