In a move that is certain to be popular politically, President Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday granting full forgiveness of student loan debt incurred by permanently disabled U.A. veterans. The order goes further, clearing eligible veterans from any obligation they have to pay income tax on the loans. Trump said in a speech that he was pressuring states to follow his lead and cancel student loan debt taken out on a state-by-state basis.
“The debt of these disabled veterans will be completely erased,” Trump told the American Veterans National Convention in Kentucky. “That’s hundreds of millions of dollars of student loans debt for our disabled veterans that will be completely erased.”
While there are already rules on the books that allow permanently disabled veterans to have their student loans discharged, critics say the application process is so onerous that only about half of eligible veterans have actually taken advantage of the forgiveness. Trump’s memorandum directs the federal government to expedite the process and allow vets to obtain student loan forgiveness “with minimal burdens.”
“Today, President Trump signed a presidential memorandum that ensures our totally and permanently disabled veterans obtain the Federal student loan debt discharges they are entitled,” the White House said in a statement. “Only half of the roughly 50,000 disabled veterans who are qualified to have their Federal student loan discharged have received this entitled benefit. The process by which our disabled veterans apply for Federal student loan discharges is too burdensome. The memorandum directs the Secretaries of Education and Veterans Affairs to develop a new expedited process to help totally and permanently disabled veterans have their Federal student loan debt discharged with minimal burdens.”
Not only was this the right thing to do and in keeping with Trump’s 2016 message that he would be a strong advocate for our veterans, it may also give him a weapon to use against the likes of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and other leftist Democrats who want to make student loan forgiveness a central component of their campaigns. There are plenty of Americans who see the wisdom of providing this kind of forgiveness for disabled vets; plenty who find it unseemly that taxpayers should suddenly foot the bill for able-bodied adults who freely entered into a college loan contract.
Either way, the $1.6 trillion in student debt that Americans currently hold is certain to be an issue during the general election. This executive order gives Trump some ammunition to fire back against the inevitable attacks from the left.