We’ve mentioned on a couple of occasions since the Bowe Bergdahl trade was made and the backlash began that the Obama administration has a three-step mechanism for defusing its scandals. And we’re seeing that mechanism at work with the Bergdahl scandal as we watch.
The Obama Three-Step works like this: Step One involves a denial of knowledge over the subject matter of the scandal, a profession of outrage about it and a promise to investigate and get to the bottom of the affair. That step is in progress with Bergdahl; last week we saw lots of examples indicating that the White House attempts to claim that Bergdahl “served with honor and distinction” or that his platoon-mates who reiterated the already-established fact that Bergdahl was a deserter are liars and psychopaths.
We also saw promises of an “investigation” where Bergdahl’s case was concerned in the statements of several administration officials that his guilt or innocence of the crime of desertion will be determined by military inquiry at a later date; when State Department spokesidiot Marie Harf argued to a reporter that Bergdahl is the best witness as to the circumstances of his departure from American lines, she was attempting – badly – to promise an investigation.
But today we’re beginning to see Step Two – an attempt at distracting the public and changing the subject by proposing a fresh attempt at giveaways to Democrat constituency groups, and to do so in a way sure to draw opposition from Republicans the Obamites can cast as unsympathetic, racist or whatever.
The constituency being pimped in this case? College graduates who can’t pay their student loans.
President Obama will announce on Monday an expansion of a program that helps student loan borrowers manage their debt, a White House official said.
The official said Obama will expand the criteria for an alternative repayment program, which caps monthly payments for certain federal student loans at 10% of a borrower’s discretionary income.
The changes would allow an additional 5 million borrowers to qualify and will be available beginning in December 2015, the official said.
The alternative payment programs are designed to help borrowers struggling under the weight of student loans. They include forgiveness programs for on-time payments and public-sector employees. Teachers can have their balance canceled after ten years, for example. Low-income borrowers can have their balance canceled after 20 or 25 years of on-time payments.
Obama is also going to endorse a plan by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), the second-most left-wing member of that body behind socialist Bernie Sanders, which would allow refinancing of student loans (something the market would probably have done had Obama not wiped it out in favor of putting the federal government in charge).
Notice, of course, that this will be cast as something necessary for the president to do because of inaction by do-nothing Republicans in Congress and also that Obama wants to pick winners and losers where student loans are concerned. Teachers, for example, get special treatment. Public-sector employees get free loan forgiveness. Low-income graduates, like those with degrees in non-marketable majors like Gender Studies, get forgiveness after making minimum payments until they’re 40 or 45.
No thought toward incentivizing students to get degrees in things like engineering or medicine, where the market needs them. Of course, since the market needs them they generally don’t have a problem paying off student loans.
What’s going to be difficult in the Bergdahl case will be Step Three – the part where the whole thing is blamed on George W. Bush or the GOP. You can expect they’ll try, though.