Republicans Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, John Kasich and Chris Christie all have plans or will soon. The same goes for Democrats Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. Hillary Clinton joined the crowd last week with a $350 billion package of ideas.
It’s all aimed at helping young people afford to go to college and pay off the debts that come due later. For anyone running for president in 2016 — and hoping to win the millennial vote — promising to fix the student-loan mess seems essential.
It’s certainly a problem: More than 40 million young adults have unpaid college loans, almost twice as many as a decade ago. The total outstanding, $1.2 trillion, exceeds what households owe on their credit cards or car loans. One in six borrowers is delinquent or in default.
The first rule for a new program is, or should be, do no harm. Yet none of the plans released so far would do enough to lessen the need for students to borrow.