If you haven’t heard it from your friends, kids, grandkids or even the paperboy, 71 percent of people have some sort student loan debt and the average is nearly $33,000.
Student debt is reaching a crisis point in the US.
In fact, student loan debt now exceeds credit card debt and totals more than $1 trillion dollars, making it the largest form of personal debt in the US.
In 2008, we saw the housing bubble pop. What happens when the student loanbubble pops?
We may even be seeing the start of the economic distress. Rick Palacios, director of research at John Burns Real Estate Consulting estimates that the housing market is suppressed 8 percent or $83 billion by the student loan debt of young people ages 20-39.
This makes sense. With mountains of student loan debt, young people are putting starting a family or making major purchases like cars and homes. This is bad for our economy, making student loan debt everyone’s problem.
It’s past time that we say, Down with Debt!
So, at this time of crisis, what is Congress doing?
Tragically, not much – mostly because of the conservative intransigence.
Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congressman Joe Courtney have re-introduced the Bank on Student Act to allow those burdened with debt to refinance their loans, much like a mortgage or car loan.
Despite major support from the public, the conservative leadership refused to act on it in the last Congress.
Congressman Rangel has introduced the SLID Act to double the allowed tax deduction forstudent loan interest and allow all Americans the opportunity to take advantage on this tax deduction. Again, the question is: will the conservatives even allow a vote?
It’s clear that action is needed – sadly, conservatives continue to do nothing.
Recently, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) offered a bold proposal in their budget to ensure debt-free college for everyone. While the budget failed on the House floor, it received the support of more than half of the Democratic caucus.
This vote clearly shows that one party is interested in addressing this crisis and the other simply wants to continue standing on the sidelines.
As we rapidly approach the 2016, it’s imperative that the public be aware of this crisis and which party cares enough to take action.
In order to raise awareness, the Young Democrats of America and Virginia Young Democrats are hosting a #DownWithDebt awareness event and fundraiser, sadly, a necessity in the post-Citizen’s United world.
We are using a sliding scale, borrowed from the Equality Bake Sales, to call greater attention to the crisis and the debt load carried by tens of millions of Americans.We are also hoping that given the close proximity to Capitol Hill, Senators and Congresspeople from the all sides of the aisle will see that this crisis is more than statistics.
We’ve hoping that they will see those struggling with student debt are real people, working hard and still struggling to pay back the investment they made in their future and the future of our nation.
While we are keeping our fingers crossed for a wave in 2016 that immediately addresses this crisis in Congress, we have to start building now and #DownWithDebt is a good start.