Does the recent uptick in consumer confidence indicate that the agendas of the White House and Congress are misaligned with middle class aspirations? The U.S. consumer confidence index jumped to 90.9 in July, marking the highest level in seven years from a revised 86.4 in June. Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board recently stated that "job growth helped boost consumers' assessment of current conditions while brighter short-term outlooks for the economy and jobs, and to a lesser extent personal income, drove the gain in expectations."
What can middle class voters do to prod political leaders in Washington to take actions that further strengthen the economy? Addressing the next middle-class bubble — student loans — would prevent millions of Americans from slipping out of the middle class into poverty.
Student loan borrowers should be given the option to transfer their college loans to the Social Security trust fund. If borrowers continue to make interest and principal payments, the trust fund would grow in value. If a borrower elected not to repay their student loans, this decision would reduce their future benefits under the Social Security program.
Opting to accept future reduced Social Security payments would be a reasonable choice for many borrowers. If the new monthly cash flow is used to build retirement savings and buy consumer goods, it will help boost the economy.
Mark M. Spradley, Chevy Chase