June 6, 2023

Warriors Their Debt Should Be Our Debt

Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
Corona warriors: their debt should be our debt
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
          WASHINGTON – Every evening at seven o’clock people in New York City stop whatever they’re doing to cheer from the rooftops in a show and shout of gratitude to the corona warriors, our health care workers who put their lives on the line for patients infected with the coronavirus.
          It’s very moving to watch and surely appreciated by the emergency room doctors and nurses who are on the extraordinarily dangerous front lines dealing with the pandemic. But cheering them on is the least we can do.
          We can do much more. We can forgive their student loan debts. Most people working as professionals in health care carry debt. It’s expensive to go to medical school and nursing school, and those bills are typically on top of the cost of a four-year college.
          Providing debt relief to these doctors and nurses would be a real boon because their payments on that debt often leaves little if anything left over for childcare, food, transportation, and rent. New York State recognized this year’s medical school graduating class as fully certified to practice medicine. It would be appropriate if that diploma and certification did not also come with a crushing bill.
          Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. ended his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination this week, acknowledging former Vice President Joe Biden’s insurmountable lead, but he has not given up on his call for free college for all and Medicare for all. But “all” is often unattainable in the short run. Incrementalism is not.
         Biden says he agrees with many of the goals Sanders fought for during the campaign. He would make public colleges and universities free for families with incomes up to $125,000. Even the Trump administration has said anyone treated for Covid-19 will not have to pay for that treatment. These are echoes of increments.
          So, it is not a large leap to look at the current health crisis and say that health workers risking their lives every day should get something of value besides our gratitude.
          We do this in all walks of life. Diplomats receive hardship pay if they’re willing to serve in particularly dangerous posts. The military not only provides for college education for our servicemen and women but also combat pay for those on the front lines. Teachers and doctors who agree to remain for a period of time in underserved rural areas typically get loan forgiveness.
          Our health care workers qualify on so many fronts for their selfless service, and for doing it under the most trying conditions. When governors in the most hard-hit areas plead for protective personal equipment and for medical-grade masks, they are pleading for the people going without and turning bandanas into masks, the people who could be caring for you and your loved ones. As a country, let’s show our thanks. These selfless souls should not be paying for the right to serve us. Their debt should be our debt.
          Douglas Cohn’s latest books are World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers) and The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency.
          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn
          © 2020 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

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