Skip to comments.Elizabeth Warren’s Student-Loan Demagoguery
Posted on 05/28/2013 8:08:02 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
"If the Federal Reserve can float trillions of dollars to large financial institutions at low interest rates to grow the economy, surely they can float the Department of Education the money to fund our students, keep us competitive, and grow our middle class.
That is the logic behind the first piece of legislation from Harvard Law School professor-cum-Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, introduced in the Senate two weeks ago. The Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act seeks to extend to students the same loan interest rates allegedly offered to the countrys chief financial institutions. Among the problems with the bill? Said interest rates for said greedy banks do not exist. But that is a minor detail in Warrens latest exercise in cheap populism.
During the summer of 2012, as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney competed in a game of How Low Can You Go? on federal student-loan interest rates, Congress tussled to a stalemate on the issue, settling for a one-year extension of the 3.4 percent interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans, those available to students with demonstrated financial need. The government pays the interest on subsidized Stafford loans while the student is in school (hence subsidized). But the current rate extension is set to expire July 1, and if Congress does not act, the interest rate will double for 7 million students. We cant afford to wait, Warren has said, doing her best to rally supporters to action in a made-up crisis. We are in need of a long-term solution, but Warrens bill is not it.
Brookings Institute fellows Matthew M. Chingos and Beth Akers dismiss the proposal as a cheap political gimmick. Not only would it be in effect for only one year, but, as they neatly summarize the proposals approach, it confuses market interest rates on long-term loans (such as the ten-year Treasury rate) with the Federal Reserves Discount Window (used to make short-term loans to banks), and it also does not reflect the administrative costs and default risk that increase the costs of the federal student-loan program.
In pushing her bill, Warren, for her political convenience, has studiously misrepresented the interest rates extended to banks. The banks pay interest that is one-ninth of the amount that students will be asked to pay, she complained. Thats just wrong. It doesnt reflect our values. Warren derided the notion that the banks get exceptionally low interest rates because the economy is still shaky and banks need access to cheap credit to continue the recovery, adding, our students are just as important to our recovery as our banks.
What Warren is alluding to is the Federal Reserve Discount Window, which the Fed defines as an instrument of monetary policy that allows eligible institutions to borrow money, usually on a short-term basis, to meet temporary shortages of liquidity caused by internal or external disruptions. Warren may have been a professor in a past life, but even the most rabid deconstructionist is unlikely to associate an institution that has temporary shortages of liquidity with a typical college student.
But it is not confusion; it is misrepresentation. The Discount Window is an emergency measure used to prevent runs on banks; it is offered short-term. And these measures are typically very short-term: frequently, overnight.
As the Daily Beasts Megan McArdle observes, No one except possibly a lunatic has told Elizabeth Warren that banks are getting 0.75 percent at the discount window as a thank-you for all the hard work theyre doing helping the economy. Banks get those low rates for three sound reasons: The borrowers have assets and income that are easy to seize, the loans are quite short term, and the banks are required to put up collateral. . . . Students, on the other hand, are borrowing for a decade, and the only thing theyre putting up as a guarantee is their character.
One could argue that all of this is a bit wonky for the senior senator from Massachusetts, but she claims her argument is based on the numbers. Numbers like these, for instance: The predatory federal government makes a 36-cent profit for every dollar it lends to students.
But, as might be expected, Warrens numbers are partial. The Congressional Budget Office typically measures the cost of a loan according to the standards of the 1990 Federal Credit Reform Act, but that act does not account fully for the cost of the risk the government assumes when it issues a loan. An alternative is the fair value approach, which does take into account market risk, that component of financial risk that remains even when every caution is taken the risk of simply being in the market. When student loans are assessed using the fair-value approach, it is clear that the government is not making money on lending, as Warren claims; its losing money. The CBO projected that every dollar lent in 2010 by the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program (FDLP), administered by the Department of Education, would add 13 cents to the federal deficit. Given that the government disbursed $27.7 billion in subsidized Stafford loans, that 13-cents-on-the-dollar ended up costing $3.6 billion. Subtract what the government made back at the current student-loan interest rate (a paltry $91.8 million), and the Department of Education added $3.5 billion to the federal deficit in 2010, only on subsidized Stafford loans. And that was with an interest rate nearly ten times what Warren wants. But it gets worse. One of the numbers Warren conveniently forgot to consider was the cost of student-loan defaults. In fiscal year 2011, 9.1 percent of students defaulted on their federal student loans within the first two years of payment. Moreover, the Department of Education anticipates that 23 percent of the subsidized Stafford loans it makes this year will default. Jason Delisle, director of the New America Foundations Federal Education Budget Project, notes that this makes Stafford one of the federal governments riskiest loan programs. The Federal Housing Administration mortgage program, which also lends to high-risk borrowers, expects only 7 percent of its borrowers will default. Delisle explains:
To be sure, the student-loan program should serve high-risk borrowers. By their nature, students generally do not have collateral, earnings, or credit histories. But when nearly a quarter of the loans are expected to default, charging a 6.8 percent interest rate is hardly the usury Senator Warren suggests. A non-profit credit union would charge at least double that rate.
But all of these numbers are tiresome for Warren, whose first Senate bill turns out to be a rehash of her campaign: shameless populist demagoguery.
Ian Tuttle is an intern at National Review.
Typical liberal “With my guilt and your gelt we can do anything”. Hey dopey Elizabeth. You are not an Indian and money does not grow on trees. Wonder how many elected Democrats actually once held a private sector productive job?
Keep your eye on Paleface Lizzy Warren. Hillary is sick. Biden is an old, white man. Kerry has lost once already. Lizzy has already proven that she can get away with lying.
During the campaign she claimed to be the philosophical “guru” of the unwashed,trust-funded,punks of “Occupy Wall Street”.And she,not Osama Obama,coined the phrase “you didn’t build that”.Why do I get the distinct sense that if her effort succeeds it will result in *her* getting an even *bigger* pension from Harvard? A Senate pension of $150K/yr and a Harvard pension of $200K/yr just isn’t good enough for a member of America’s “original” residents.
Glad someone answered this and its posted here. MSNBC’s beening playing up Warren's stupid argument.
I think Massachusetts is a special case. At least I hope it is!
But that would mean no more loans for the study of irrelevant subjects, which would mean a major hit to the universities' bottom line, which would mean a major hit to Elizabeth Warren's bank account, and which would also mean a major hit to the dollars available to the universities for the facilitation of left-wing study and agitation.
So Warren wants to get even more kids hooked on the government heroin of student loans, instead. As long as they owe the money - whether or not they can ever pay it back - the universities and banks will appear financially sound and the Ponzi scheme can keep operating.
The Great American Dictatorship is going to be BUILT on cheap populism. And a couple of generations of under-employed students up to hock in their eyeballs will give them the most receptive audience this side of the Weimar Republic.
As a MA voter, I’ve been watching her since early in the Senatorial race. You have it completely correct: she IS the One for 2016. The right plumbing, the right philosophy and the right (for the Rats) ethical standards. You should here some of the locals describe her - rock star doesn’t do it justice (who’s gonna vote for Mick Jagger?).
There are two nations that exist within our borders at this time. There is The United States of America which follows a Constitution, and there is Democratland which is a nation based on looting the treasury. Which one is going to survive?
Yeah...most Massachusetts voters are 'special'. Which means you have to read real slooooow to them.
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