Analysis & Comment

Opinion | How Will the Supreme Court Handle Student Loan Forgiveness?

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To the Editor:

Re “Justices Express Doubts on Relief of Student Debt” (front page, March 1):

Although the outcome of the case before the Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of President Biden’s executive order that reduced outstanding student debt is significant, the real issue is that tens of millions of Americans who seek a college diploma to enhance their lives and their careers must borrow many thousands of dollars to obtain those degrees.

In many economically advanced countries, a college education is a right that is either free or available at minimal cost. Why must obtaining a college degree require students to take out high-interest loans that often take many years to pay back and can cause economic hardship along with high levels of stress?

Shouldn’t all levels of education be a right that Americans are entitled to receive rather than a business?

Alan Safron
Woodcliff Lake, N.J.

To the Editor:

Chief Justice John Roberts said regarding relief of student debt, “I think most casual observers would say, if you’re going to give up that much amount of money, if you’re going to affect the obligations of that many Americans on a subject that’s of great controversy, they would think that’s something for Congress to act on.”

It makes me wonder how the court’s Roe v. Wade reasoning might have differed if the monetary cost of raising a child had been a consideration.

“Aaugh!!!” as Charlie Brown would say.

Elizabeth Bjorkman
Lexington, Mass.

To the Editor:

President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program does not eliminate college student loan debt. The president’s program transfers the college student loan debts from the people who owe the money to people who did not sign the college loan documents, receive the college loan funds or attend any college classes made possible by the loan.

Fred Walker
Wyndmoor, Pa.

To the Editor:

As someone who managed to minimize and eventually pay off my loans for graduate education, I find the prospect of anyone being “rewarded” for bad planning and/or ignoring their fiscal responsibilities off-putting.

On the other hand, our country has a tradition of providing an “exit ramp” for individuals facing overwhelming consequences of some combination of bad decisions and misfortune — e.g., bankruptcy. I thus wonder whether there might be a third way out of this conundrum.

Assuming that the majority of student debtors have a sincere desire to pay but just cannot overcome crushing compounding interest rates, wouldn’t it be cheaper, yet ultimately fairer and more effective, for the federal government to negotiate with creditors to lower those rates and then offer to pay that interest for those who commit to making regular payments thereafter?

The government might also partially match payments for those demonstrating a full year or two of reliability. Such a resolution would surely be much cheaper and fairer, and yet compassionate, by holding debtors’ feet to the fire, but not so close as to prevent them from ever being able to stand on their own.

Francis M. Siri
Parlin, N.J.

Netanyahu’s ‘Faustian Bargain’

To the Editor:

Re “Netanyahu’s Control of Right-Wing Coalition Appears to Be Weakening” (news analysis, March 1):

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s inclusion of extreme religious nationalist parties in his coalition is a Faustian bargain that will cause great harm to Israel’s economy and democratic institutions.

He will learn that there is nothing he can do or say that will placate the extremists in his government, who will never be satisfied until they uproot any trace of liberalism and secularism in the country.

The undermining of the judiciary is a main mechanism for achieving their objectives. Mr. Netanyahu’s legacy therefore may ultimately be the dismantling of Israel’s democracy.

Steven E. Cerier

Those Who Shaped Georgia Politics

To the Editor:

Re “From Carter to M.T.G.: A Peach State Plummet,” by Maureen Dowd (column, Feb. 26):

I disagree with Ms. Dowd’s claim that Marjorie Taylor Greene is the “new face of Georgia politics.”

The voters of Georgia elected and then re-elected Raphael Warnock in the last two statewide elections. Senator Warnock is the “new face of Georgia politics.” Indeed, since Jimmy Carter was governor, Georgia has made slow but steady strides toward prosperity and social justice, as Atlanta has grown into a major multicultural American city.

Many Georgia elected officials paved the way, including Mr. Carter, John Lewis, Andrew Young, Sam Nunn and Keisha Lance Bottoms. By elevating Marjorie Taylor Greene, Ms. Dowd does a disservice to those who have genuinely shaped Georgia politics in the last half century.

John Guthrow
Lynchburg, Va.

Transcending Limits

To the Editor:

Re “When an Artist Loses His Sight,” by Roger Rosenblatt (Opinion guest essay, Feb. 21):

People will always find remarkable ways to transcend limits.

While Mr. Rosenblatt wrote of his efforts to outmaneuver cataracts, I thought of Ludwig van Beethoven writing the “Ode to Joy” while deaf, taking in the music’s vibrations through his teeth and body.

I thought of Helen Keller overcoming the loss of her sight and hearing as a child to become a prolific writer and acclaimed disability rights advocate, and Stephen Hawking developing his theories about black holes despite amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

I thought of Wilma Rudolph overcoming childhood polio and scarlet fever to become an Olympic champion sprinter; Tom Dempsey, who was born without toes on his right foot, kicking a game-winning 63-yard field goal to set an N.F.L. record that would last for 43 years; and Jim Abbott, who was born without a right hand, tossing a no-hitter as a New York Yankees pitcher.

These achievements are a testament to the power of human will.

Stephen A. Silver
San Francisco

Save a Dog in Spencer’s Honor

To the Editor:

Re “Marathoners Mourn Spencer, a Race Fan Who Inspired Boston” (Sports, Feb. 25):

In running a beautiful obituary for Spencer, the Boston Marathon’s official dog, The Times acknowledges that Spencer was no less deserving of posthumous praise than a human celebrity.

Yet just as with famous humans, Spencer was really no more deserving than less famous members of his kind, a point beautifully made by Spencer’s human as he noted, “Everyone claims to have the best dog and no one is wrong.”

Celebrities are individuals but also symbols, with Spencer being a symbol of all that is good in dogs, and the knack they have for bringing out what is good in us.

As we read about Spencer, thousands of equally sweet souls, well behaved and adoptable, continue to be killed in shelters each year. Readers reminded by Spencer’s tale of how wonderful dogs can be might consider saving one of their lives on his behalf.

Karen Dawn
Santa Barbara, Calif.
The writer is executive director of DawnWatch, a nonprofit animal advocacy organization.

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