A way to ease student loan debt without sticking taxpayers with the bill: How about a trade?

Marguerite Roza:

While last week’s $1.9T federal relief plan did not forgive student loans, it did include a provision that would make future debt cancellation non-taxable. Senator Warren and others released a celebratory statement suggesting that the law “clears the way for President Biden to use his authority to cancel $50,000 in student debt.”

But student loan forgiveness is far from a done deal. That’s because there are legitimate concerns about cost, equity and fairness that come with any of the current plans to waive student loans. President Biden knows that, and that’s likely why he hasn’t done it.

But, there’s a better way to relieve the pain of student debt that addresses these concerns while costing taxpayers nothing.

Instead of waiving away the debt and sending the bill to taxpayers, this would be a trade: in return for each $10,000 in debt relief, recipients delay eligibility for federal retirement benefits by a year. In exchange for up to $40,000 now to pay off student loans, recipients would postpone Social Security and Medicare benefits for up to 4 years. The trade would be completely optional and open to all Americans for generations to come. Best of all, it costs taxpayers nothing.