In other words, almost 40 percent of young people today blame the government for the staggering debt they've taken on to finance the paths that they were told (sometimes by the President himself) would lead to financial stability – debt that often gets repaid to the federal government itself. If you thought Social Security was the third rail of politics in the '80s and '90s, just wait until the next time Congress jerks around and dangles sky-high student loan interest rates in front of all those un- and underemployed millennials trying to pay off loans the size of the Greatest Generation's first mortgages.
A Trickle-Down Burden
This is not the time for politicians to hide, ostrich-like, in plain sight and ignore the problems than have been created by sky-rocketing tuition rates, uncertainty about long-term interest rates on federally subsidized student loans and a global economy that increasingly demands a college diploma as the price of entry. It's not a time to point fingers at the other guys and blame them for their supposed past sins. If you haven't yet noticed, millennials are a pretty savvy generation and, as this poll shows, they're damn tired of being told to blame the other party for the problems that both created.
Congress needs to step up to the plate and start taking millennials' concerns seriously, because their student debt burden – unlike Reagan's tax cuts – are going to trickle down throughout our economy, as the next generation finds itself unable to afford to buy houses, finance large purchases (like new cars) or even just make Black Friday actually black for retailers. If they can't find jobs, can't build good credit, can't achieve salary growth and continue to struggle under a massive debt burden from the second they start their adult lives, they aren't going to push the American economy to new heights, and we're all going to preside over its sputtering.
It's time to look at solutions, like the ability of students to refinance their loans (as proposed by the CFPB) or even discharge them in bankruptcy. It's time to crack down on abuses, whether it's by non-bank student loan servicers operating with too little oversight or for-profit colleges that take students' money and provide little actual education or even not-for-profit colleges in which administrators too often seem to personally profit at the expense of students' education (and adjuncts' ability to earn a living wage). Because if politicians and regulators don't find some way to help our young people out, many of them may join them in the unemployment line sooner rather than later.
Adam Levin is chairman and cofounder of Credit.com and Identity Theft 911. His experience as former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs gives him unique insight into consumer privacy, legislation and financial advocacy. He is a nationally recognized expert on identity theft and credit.