By David Dayen
Today, the Senate votes on Elizabeth Warren’s bill to refinance previously issued student loans to current rates, which would save borrowers $55 billion over 10 years. The bill is designed to play up a contrast between the two parties on student aid; it’s not going to pass. And ultimately we need to give young people a free or near-free public option for higher education, rather than modestly subsidize the indebtedness that causes delays in major purchases and harm to the economy. But you could certainly do worse than reducing the massive amount of money the government makes off student borrowers (and I don’t think you have to pay for it; an investment in higher ed pays off itself in the long run).
That’s not how Matthew Chingos of the Brookings Institution sees it. Since Sen. Warren entered public office last year, Chingos has been one of her most persistent critics on higher education issues, calling her proposals “embarrassingly bad” and “not as progressive as it seems.” Chingos, with his affiliation with a centrist think tank, often gets cited in the media as an objective source in the student loan debate.
However, it’s always worth following the money. And Chingos gives you that road map at his own website, where he lists eight research grants he has received, totaling $1.34 million in all, from four several conservative organizations. This includes $500,000 from the Lumina Foundation, which has close ties to Sallie Mae, the corporation that stands to lose the most from Sen. Warren’s refinancing bill.