Would the student debt forgiveness deal been more palatable to those against it if reframed as student loan "interest" forgiveness?

The idea of forgiving student debt really seems to rub a lot of people the wrong way. That someone is not paying back the principal amount of what they borrowed is “unfair” to them.
However, a lot of these people I have come across, when I ask them how they would feel about forgiving interest accrued on these loans don’t seem to have as much of a problem with it.
If they would have sold this program as a “student loan INTEREST relief” deal with the same $10,000 sum put toward accrued interest would it been an easier pill to swallow for them?

Nothing will placate people when their information about any particular topic comes through the filter of right wing media, which will invariably twist and distort it into something bad.

Forgiving student loan interest will still be presented as giving undeserving people a free break, pandering, a guaranteed slog on the economy, proof that freedom is over and a sure sign that roving mobs of swarthy people are on the horizon.

Probably not. One of the principal (primarily right-wing) arguments against the loan forgiveness program is essentially those who are getting their loans forgiven are getting “something for nothing / free handout that’s not really free but in fact being paid for by the Joe the Plumber’s taxes”. Forgiving interest doesn’t change that argument.

Edit: I most certainly do not subscribe to this argument, I’m just presenting it. For those that do subscribe to that argument, forgiving accrued interest wouldn’t change the underlying (false) assumption.

I don’t think so. While there are some people who had principles stands against the concept, I think the majority are against it because of the way it was framed to them. The talking heads deliberately fanned the jealousy by framing it the way @Lancia mentions.

However, they’ve also seen the other framing, and realize it has a point as well. So they are amenable to some sort of compromise position. However, had that compromise position been the original position, the same arguments would have been used against it.

It’s like when someone asks you to do them a large favor, then switches to a smaller favor instead. The bigger favor makes the smaller one seem more palatable.

The only way to make these people accept it would be to make sure they also got something out of it. Because ultimately the argument for most people is just jealousy.

Most do not have a categorical hatred for handouts.

The talking heads are saying that interest forgiveness would have been acceptable, because that’s not what was done. If it had been done, then they would be saying that it was unacceptable, and would have come up with something else they would say should have been done instead.

I think the rollout as-is was okay, as stated, as a college student loan forgiveness program. If TPTB cared about what the opposition would think, they would have stated “the student loan forgiveness program works just like the Payroll Protection Program from the previous administration, where under certain conditions, part of some loans made to businesses were forgiven. But in this case, it was directed to college students.” It’s all in the presentation and messaging. That said, I am sure a large number of people angered by this would choose to ignore the parallels for the sake of recreational outrage.

Not for everyone, but for a significant number, yes, I think it would have been.

Attach it to, yet another, tax cut (that only, really, benefits the wealthy) and it passes overwhelmingly.

Except there were Democrats that opposed this as well. Either outright, or they wanted some kind of public service attached as a condition for qualification.

They also don’t like that it doesn’t do much of anything to prevent this kind of situation in the somewhat near future.

I doubt it.

Conservatives need to manufacture outrage to keep their base loyal.

People are mad about student debt forgiveness because they were told to be mad about it. If the same program had been called student loan interest relief, then the right wing media would have drummed up opposition to that instead.

The fact that the OP found people don’t get upset about the same idea when it’s expressed by a different term shows that these people aren’t thinking about the actual idea. They’re just reacting to buzzwords.

I’m a Democratic voter who is opposed to this sort of student debt relief for various reasons I’ve covered on this board, but the bulk of the opposition is parroting this sentiment from the governor of Mississippi:

It’s culture war BS and no amount of rebranding could fight that.

Per Politifact, many GOP members of congress have had millions of PPP debt forgiven.

But $10 is too much, of course.

I’m going to buck the trend here and say that I could see it helping make it more palatable to some people.

Not everyone opposed to this is a unreachable Fox news junkie. I think a lot of people who are bothered by this are people who worked, saved and sacrificed so that they would have enough to pay for education for themselves or their children, and who feel that complete debt forgiveness makes them sucker for doing what they considered to be the most responsible thing. “Why did I bother going through that hardship when I would have been much better off to just take out a big loan that I never had to pay back?”

If you made it so that to that the forgiveness only covered the interest and not the principle then at least those who paid in full up front wouldn’t feel as though the money they spent was entirely wasted.

Note that I don’t personally hold this view, I’m just articulating it.

But that’s not what is occurring here - it’s not intended to be “complete debt forgiveness”. For most college loan borrowers, they have more (in some cases, much more) college loan debt than is being forgiven. Sure, there is probably a decent number who borrowed less than what is being forgiven (and their debt is wiped), but for those with more than the maximum being forgiven, this just lessens the burden of that debt. For those with more debt, this is just giving them a break, with the intent to stimulate the economy over a long term.

Note that accrual of interest and monthly payments were paused during the pandemic, and they both will resume on remaining college loan debt after 1/1, so those who took out loans will still feel the sting of borrowing, for anyone who finds that an important argument (not saying @Buck_Godot finds that important).

Yes, but we are talking about messaging, not necessarily reality, and the message that is being received is that people are having their debts paid off.

As a data point, reframing it that way would not make it more palatable to this conservative. It’s still subsidizing and rewarding irresponsible borrowing and outrageous education costs no matter how you frame it.

If the order only affected interest I don’t know if it would have had the same effect. If you took on $40k of student debt at 5% in 2016, and you haven’t made any payments yet (deferment while in school then pandemic), that’s only $13k in accrued interest. It would actually be less since you don’t take on all of the debt freshman year.

People who actually make payments and avoid negative amortization would only see accrued interest go down over time. So I question whether most borrowers currently have $10,000 in accrued interest to forgive in the first place.

If someone is more knowledgeable please correct me!


I for one am opposed to the program and am not a Fox News conservative.

I believe that financial support for individuals should either be targeted toward the poor or universal (universal health care, guaranteed basic income). This program is neither, subsidizing some people who have up to $125,000/year income.

People interested in the facts and specifics tend to overestimate how interested other people are in the facts and specifics.

A few people would receive this more positively.

Some people think the eligibility requirements should be lower.

Some people think the fairly conservative limits should be yet less.

Some people would begrudge giving other people the skin of a grape. These people are often greedy and the first to ask for handouts or eat the good donuts.

Some people have more principled reasons for not liking certain policies.

Me? I think it is a pretty positive thing and the limits are reasonable. Education is important. It should be subsidized. But some of these things might just result in higher fees or tuitions, greed being what it is.

Thanks to Republicans, welders, plumbers, laborers, & other Mississippians (black, white, Hispanic, etc.) will be forced to pay higher taxes than billionaires and corporate executives.

Why does the Republican Party hate working people so much?