In an interview Fox News' Tucker Carlson, Macon-native and former Chief Operating Officer of the Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid, Dr. A. Wayne Johnson discussed the urgent need to address America’s student loan crisis, which is causing financial hardship and economic distress for over 42 million Americans.
Dr. Johnson detailed his solutions to address this crisis in a recent op-ed in the Macon Telegraph and at a discussion at the American Enterprise Institute. A transcript of Dr. Johnson’s conversation with Tucker Carlson follows.
See Dr. Johnson's Opportunity Plus Plan for Higher Education
Tucker Carlson: While Congress remains fixated on impeachment and Russian boogeyman, prospects for American young people keep getting worse. One of the chief culprits for that is the student loan bubble. It's now up to $1.5 trillion and counting. Until recently, Dr. Wayne Johnson was the Chief Operating Officer of the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid program, but he recently resigned from that position and he's announced It's time for radical solutions. Solutions like debt forgiveness or possibly the abolition of the federal student loan system entirely. Dr. Johnson knows more about the subject than almost every living American. He spoke with us about it recently. Here's how it went.
Tucker Carlson: You left in order to address the problem. You would like to be appointed to the Senate in Georgia to address this, because you believe that's the best way to address the problem. Before we get to that, tell us why you were moved to do this.
Dr. Wayne Johnson: The more I looked at it, it became crystal clear that the laws that formed the current student loan process and system, quite frankly, are built and designed to be highly disadvantageous to students. It's really a structure that continues to foster the opportunity for colleges and universities to continue to draw unlimited amounts of money from the government and it became even more clear to me that the only way this is going to get changed is through law change in Congress, and I'm ever more convinced that somebody in the Senate has got to drive it forward. So, I was moved to do this because working with the Secretary and working in the Trump Administration, we were doing and continue to do amazing things to make the processes work to adhere to the law but it became crystal clear that the law has got to change and the only way the law can change is someone taking it on in Congress and I believe the Senate is the place to do that.
Tucker Carlson: The law was written by lobbyists for higher education and they are the only beneficiaries of it that I can tell. At this point, if we don't fix it, what will happen?
Dr. Wayne Johnson: Well, if we don't fix it, we're going to continue to have just an ever-increasing destruction of fabric of America. I mean, it’s that profound. People are not getting married. They are not having children. When somebody does get married, they take on the debt of their spouse as it relates to student loans. There’s a little card I saw recently that said: I love you enough to take on your student loan debt. That is a profound statement because student loan debt is non-dischargable into bankruptcy. It’s so profound – and one of the most disturbing things to me – is that people are actually committing suicide to get out of their student loan debt.
Tucker Carlson: So we have a system that's causing people to kill themselves and the only people again who are benefiting are the richest people in our society: the colleges and universities. If you're appointed to the Senate by the Governor of Georgia, which is your hope, what we do?
Dr. Wayne Johnson: Well, the very first thing I would do is make sure that my Republican colleagues understand that it's time for Republicans to really step up and take hold of this issue. I believe the Republicans are beginning to understand that this will become a defining aspect of the 2020 election.
The Democrats have kind of had a free run on it for a period of time but their programs are designed quite frankly, they talk about relieving the problem by way of debt reduction or debt cancellation, but they don't tell you that they just want to continue to let this unending amount of money flow into the system.
Tucker Carlson: They wrote these laws. I mean, the left wrote these laws. Republicans need to fix them. I couldn't agree more. If you're afraid of the coming of socialism and we all should be, fixing this is the most effective thing you can do to insulate ourselves against socialism. We're going to get socialism if we don't do this in my opinion.
Dr. Wayne Johnson: We are already in a socialistic state because of this. There's a breach of the trust of students, and by the way, this is not just for younger folks, this is cross-generational. One of the things that's really, really sad is we send out millions of Social Security checks every month, and at the same time, we also garnish the Social Security payments of many Americans.
Tucker Carlson: It’s absolutely disgusting, so we are rooting for you. Thank you so much.