Yesterday, the Democratic candidate for President of the United States, a long-time member of the United States Senate, tweeted this message to his “followers,” and also, given the nature of Twitter, the nation:
“You have families out there paying 6, 8, 10 percent on student debt but you can refinance your homes at 3 percent. What sense is that?”
Now, if you don’t instantly recognize why this is an astoundingly ignorant statement, especially for a Presidential candidate running on a platform of economic restructuring, that’s okay. Don’t feel badly. It’s a weekend, you’re probably groggy from all the holiday cheer, and most important of all, you aren’t presuming to hold yourself out as qualified to be President, or constantly lecturing about the evils of capitalism. Sanders is, however, and this cretinous statement is signature significance. Nobody who understands loans, interest, collateral, banking, or economics would say, write or publish such a fatuous statement, even once. This is signature significance: an informed, logical, attentive, competent individual will not make such a bone-headed mistake…never. Sanders, however, has said this at least twice; in October, he tweeted a variation on the same economically ignorant theme:
“It makes no sense that students and their parents pay higher interest rates for college than they pay for car loans or housing mortgages.”
Actually, it does, Senator; it makes perfect sense, unless you are twelve. The concept is called “collateral.” That is something of value that a lender can take if a borrower defaults on the loan. The deal is interest, plus security, the collateral. A house or a car are tangible collateral, so the interest rate can be lower. When the loan is for college tuition, however, there is no collateral. If the borrower defaults on the loan, the bank can’t take the student’s diploma, or education, or download all of the alleged knowledge the loan paid for from brain to laptop. Of course the interest rate is higher. That is, “of course” if you know anything at all about finance.
The unavoidable and shocking conclusion: Sanders is holding himself out as the leader to revolutionize how the U.S. economy works, stimulate growth and jobs, and show the way to a fairer and more just financial system, yet he is stunningly uninformed about the basics of finance, hasn’t learned a thing in all his years in the Senate, and worse, lacks the diligence to learn what he has an obligation to understand in order to justify having a vote on economic matters in the U.S. Senate, never mind setting policy as President.
This is bad.
Is there any excuse or defense for that tweet? No. Should anyone trust an elected official this ignorant and so lazy and arrogant that he makes no effort to disabuse himself of financial illiteracy? No. Does such a bone-brained misunderstanding mean that no intelligent person should listen to or take seriously any of his pronouncements about the economy? Yes.
To be fair to the Senator, let’s try to find some explanation for this that doesn’t prove that he couldn’t pass Economics 101 at a community college:
1. He didn’t tweet this: a low level intern did under his name. You know this is going to be the official defense. I have made this clear with everyone from Donald Trump to President Obama: if you allow others to tweet under your name, you are 100% accountable. I don’t want to hear this excuse, which should be almost as disqualifying for the Presidency as a candidate who says, “Col-lat-er-al? Duh, what are that?” Besides, this is the second time this idiocy issued from @SenSanders or @BernieSanders. If it was under his name and he knew it made him look like a dolt, presumably Sanders would have made certain nobody speaking for him made the same mistake again. He owns it now.
2. Bernie knows better, but he also knows that his supporters have the economic and financial acumen of meercats, so he’s playing to the crowd. From an ethical perspective, that’s worse than being a finance dummy while criticizing Wall Street and economic policy.
3. “An education is an investment in a human being’s future, and is as valuable as a house.” This was one of the defenses offered by a commenter on a website that flagged Bernie’s tweet. See #2. Bernie knows his audience. Various progressive groups re-tweeted Bernie’s gaffe like it was discovered truth, groups like Wear Justice, which claims to provide “thought provoking, high quality news for the educated and socially conscious.” Well, thought-provoking, anyway.
No, there really is no defense.
Meanwhile, I have seen no criticism of the Sanders tweet from anywhere but conservative websites and Fox. It’s just the 27th; maybe they’ll catch up. This is important, so it should be news, just as it would be news if Donald Trump (whose dumbest tweets are instantly BREAKING NEWS!) tweeted that he believed he was the reincarnation of Genghis Khan. It isn’t news to me that Sanders is spectacularly unfit to be President, but I’d think his supporters might want to know.
Pointer: The Blaze