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Siding with the Moneychangers

Turning our attention back to economic justice, what were Republican senators thinking when they filibustered Senator Elizabeth Warren’s bill that would have allowed people to refinance their student loans at a lower rate? Note that the legislation did not forgive the debt. It didn’t even make everyone eligible for a lower rate. It simply allowed those who did qualify to refinance a debt that, unlike any other loan, is fixed for life.

With the insidious way many federally-backed student loans are structured, people are locked into rates that are totally illogical. I know retired people who are still paying off their student loans taken out during the Reagan administration when interest rates were 16 percent.

Our government isn’t at all motivated to address how billionaires and multi-national corporations offshore profits to avoid paying taxes, but the Government Accounting Office recently estimated that the government will generate $66 billion in PROFIT on the $454 billion in loans it originated between 2007 and 2012.

I can think of only two reasons for filibustering this bill: Exploiting the working poor who had to take out these loans is the preferred way to finance the government, and/or big banks donate more money to some campaigns than do the working poor. Either way, those who opposed the legislation have chosen the side of the moneychangers rather than the side of those who tried to get an education so that they could get ahead in life.

Again, just as they neglect public education because almost all of their children go to private schools, probably none of these senators had to borrow money for their kids to go to college. Perhaps you didn’t either. Frankly, I worked my way through college, and, though my parents didn’t pay for it, I managed to get out debt free. We did have to borrow money for our daughters who were in college at the same time. Because we are not poor, however, we were able to get a line of credit at a very low rate, and it has been relatively painless for us.

It would be a sin if I didn’t care about those who are struggling so just because I am not. If Christians cared about the needs of the poor at least as much as they care about their own needs, politicians wouldn’t dare vote against the poor. Fortunately for the politicians, Christians don’t care that much.



Rev. Michael Piazza

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