If imitation is truly the best form of flattery, then Senator Marco Rubio and First Daughter Ivanka Trump are doing their best to flatter Virginia’s own, Elliott Harding. Harding is a Charlottesville attorney, former Legislative Director & Counsel for Rep. Tom Garrett (VA-05), and Albemarle GOP Chair. In addition to being a founder and co-chairman of the Millennial Advocacy Council PAC, Harding currently serves on the Young Republican Federation of Virginia’s executive board.
Since the 2016 election cycle, Harding’s innovative plan to simultaneously address the student loan debt crisis and Social Security insolvency has been championed by Rep. Tom Garrett (VA-5), who introduced the “Student Security Act” (HR 4584) last year. If passed and enacted into law, the plan would allow those with student loans to voluntarily delay their age of Social Security eligibility in exchange for an amount of debt forgiveness of their student loans. In addition to providing graduates with a choice to alleviate the burden of student loan debt, the plan would also ensure that Social Security remains solvent into their retirement and their children’s retirement. Congressman Dave Brat (VA-7), a former college professor at Virginia’s Randolph Macon College, has also backed the plan and recently signed on as a co-sponsor of the legislation, among several others.
The student loan debt crisis is by far one of the biggest problems facing America’s youngest generations. As the cost of a college education continues to skyrocket, so has student loan debt, which currently exceeds $1.5 trillion. As a result, young Americans are delaying purchasing their first home, waiting to get married and start families, and putting off investing in the economy. In fact, there is more outstanding student loan debt in America than credit card debt. Yikes!
Just last month, Harding presented the “Student Security Act” on the campus of Yale University for the Inaugural William F. Buckley, Jr. Ideas Forum. After competing against over a hundred submissions featuring local, state, and federal policies solutions, Harding was named the winner. During his presentation, Harding expressed concern over the possibility that Congress would recognize his innovative policy concept but shift away from its original intent to address the student loan debt crisis. And now it seems that his stated concerns were valid. Watch Harding’s full presentation here.
Now Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ivanka Trump are hoping to use the concept behind Harding’s award-winning legislative plan to address another policy issue. In an extended interview with POLITICO, Rubio shared their plan to allow Americans to delay Social Security in order to finance paid family leave, an issue that the First Daughter has championed since the 2016 campaign. But given that Rubio has not even completed a first draft of his bill, perhaps this POLITICO article is tad premature.
One of the key arguments in favor of Student Security is how it provides immediate debt relief for student loan borrowers while simultaneously ensuring that Social Security remained intact into their own retirement. If we do nothing to address Social Security insolvency, recent graduates will continue to pay into a program that will become depleted long before they reach the age of retirement themselves.
I applaud Rubio for recognizing a brilliant solution when he sees one, and am encouraged that someone of his stature is now championing the concept behind the Student Security Act. However, there are a few concerning issues regarding his proposed application of Harding’s policy concept. Instead of addressing two problems simultaneously, Rubio’s proposal may actually end up encouraging businesses that already offer paid family leave, to stop. And allowing Americans to pay for their own “family leave” by drawing from their Social Security benefits would only add another layer of entitlements. On the other hand, the goal of Harding’s original plan is to alleviate an already existing debt while addressing Social Security’s insolvency. And not to mention that the Student Security Act (HR 4584) would end up yielding a net positive, $726.4 billion in savings, according to the Social Security Administration’s Actuarial Summary. From a fiscal standpoint, Harding’s plan is a win-win!
While there are several facets of this solution that he ought to consider, Senator Rubio’s proposed bill is a step in the right direction nonetheless. I hope that our congressional leaders continue to embrace and champion new and innovative solutions in their continued efforts to address the complex issues our country faces today.