CBS Champions Elizabeth Warren's New Student Loan Bill; Ignores Plan to Raise Taxes

Tuesday's CBS Evening News ran a mushy feature on Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren's liberal plan to let Americans refinance their student loans by hiking taxes on the wealthy.

Nowhere did CBS explain that Warren would pay for the refinancing through tax hikes. What also went unreported is that Warren's bill is a Democratic ploy to garner the youth vote in an election year. The network instead spent the entire report making the Senator's case, quoting Warren and a supporter of her proposal arguing that the government needed to let Americans refinance their "crushing" loans.

Correspondent Anthony Mason teed up Warren to defend her own bill:

MASON: (on camera) If we don't do this, what happens?

WARREN: Student loan debt is crushing people in this country. It's – it's preventing this economy from moving forward.

And CBS helped further Warren's bill by making the case for her. "30 percent of outstanding federal student debt is in default, forbearance, or deferment, and, Scott, the average debt for college seniors is now $29,000," Mason reported.

Yet the Evening News couldn't even report what Boston's CBS affiliate pointed out: "She [Warren] would pay for her proposal with a tax increase on wealthy Americans." Also, Politico saw through Warren's intentions to partisanship, noting the proposal is yet another part of the Democratic "Fair Shot Agenda" in an election year.

Below is a transcript of the segment:

CBS
EVENING NEWS
5/6/14
6:50 p.m. EDT

SCOTT PELLEY: Today, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced a bill that would for other first time, allow Americans to refinance student loans directly with the federal government at lower interest rates. Anthony Mason tells us debt on U.S. student loans has become an albatross for millions.

(Video Clip)

ANTHONY MASON: (voice over) In California, Rosemary Anderson's student loans have landed her deep in financial trouble.

ROSEMARY ANDERSON: I don't even think I could have gone to a loan shark and had something like that happen to me.

MASON: Anderson, a 57-year-old divorced mother of two, went back to school in her 30s for her bachelor's and master's degrees. Illness and financial trouble, she says, forced her to miss payments. So the $65,000 she originally borrowed has ballooned, inflated by 8 percent interest rates that she's not allowed to refinance.

ANDERSON: This represents the total amount of federal student loan debt that I have, $123,317 and 35 cents.

MASON: In the past eight years, student debt has doubled in the U.S. from $557 billion to $1.2 trillion. That's more than Americans owe on credit cards or auto loans.

Sen. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-Mass.): It's just a problem that keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

MASON: Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren introduced the legislation today to allow refinancing.

WARREN: With interest rates low, homeowners have been refinancing their mortgages. But the federal government does not let people holding student loans refinance down to the low interest rates available. This bill would say, yes, they can refinance.

MASON: (on camera) If we don't do this, what happens?

WARREN: Student loan debt is crushing people in this country. It's – it's preventing this economy from moving forward.

ANDERSON: As more and more people fall into this kind of mire of student loan debt, they're putting less money into the economy, and that has a ripple effect and it's going to come around and someone's going to pay for that.

(End Video Clip)

MASON: 30 percent of outstanding federal student debt is in default, forbearance, or deferment, and, Scott, the average debt for college seniors is now $29,000.

PELLEY: Remarkable.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014