Hot Sheet

A conservative policy shop comes to the rescue of students stalked by ‘walking debt’

Author: Dan Njegomir - February 6, 2018 - Updated: February 6, 2018

(Millennial Policy Center via YouTube)

Denver-area talk radio’s Jimmy Sengenberger and his right-leaning Millennial Policy Center are injecting a dose of fiscal conservatism, along with a shot of zany humor, into the perennial debate over the crushing debt of student loans.

In a low-budget video hat tip to the vintage Boris Karloff flick (and to generations of schlock horror), Sengenberger spars with a zombie while positing some serious points about how to rein in runaway student debt.

“We’re going to devise a plan to eliminate the walking debt,” he promises as a rendering of the walking dead creeps up behind him. Calling the U.S. system of financial aid “fatally flawed,” Sengenberger chides policy makers for eliminating the ability of student borrowers to discharge their debt through bankruptcy filings — a policy he says actually lowers risk for lenders because they know indebted borrowers won’t be able to seek protection. That incentivizes the lenders to keep on lending. Sengenberger wants to restore risk to the student debt equation.

His market-driven take on the dilemma facing more and more college students includes some familiar refrains from his slice of the political spectrum. Notably, that the proliferation of relatively easy credit has only driven spiraling tuition ever higher, “forcing students to take out more loans just to keep up.” It’s the inevitable interaction of supply and demand. Meanwhile, student-loan forgiveness, as some advocate, would be a mistake that “throws student responsibility out the window,” says Sengenberger.

He proposes among other things to let borrowers be able to discharge their debt through bankruptcy after a certain point. That sounds more lenient, but the net effect would be in part to prompt lenders to lend more conservatively as they’d face greater risk of losing their stake in a bankruptcy ruling.

Agree or disagree with Sengenberger, tune in for his thought-provoking monologue. Then, stay tuned for the rent-a-zombie. You’ll have to supply your own popcorn.

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir is the opinion editor for Colorado Politics. A longtime journalist and more-than-25-year veteran of the Colorado political scene, Njegomir has been an award-winning newspaper reporter, an editorial page editor, a senior legislative staffer at the State Capitol and a political consultant.