The 'Patriot Act' host was called in to testify about the detrimental impacts of student loans to the House Financial Services Committee.
Joining a panel of experts and consumer advocates at a four-hour testimony about the worsening student debt crisis and the widening issues in college tuition fee lending to the House Financial Services Committee, comedian and Patriot Act host Hasan Minhaj delivered a humorous yet moving speech about the dismal realities of student debt. The funnyman had previously touched upon the topic during an episode of his Netflix special. This was the first time the issue of student debt has been taken up by the full committee in at least the past twenty years, NBC News reports.
The hearing took place on Tuesday, September 10, on Capitol Hill. Minhaj addressed the detrimental repercussions 45 million young people who currently have to pay off student loans are experiencing due to the Congress-manufactured crisis. However, ahead of the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attack and as a Muslim, the comedian humorously began by denouncing the act of terrorism committed in 2001—a topic plaguing news headlines ever since Representative Ilhan Omar's controversial statements regarding the issue. "My name is Hasan Minhaj," he stated. "I am a Muslim and I condemn radical Islamic terrorism. That has nothing to do with anything, I just want it on the record."
He moved on to discuss the harmful impacts of student loans on America's youth. Minhaj asserted in front of the House Financial Services Committee, "This issue is sidelining millions of Americans. People are putting off marriage, kids, homeownership, and retirement — especially my generation... Many borrowers are still treated like deadbeats because the government has put their financial futures in the hands of predatory, for-profit loan servicing companies."
The talk show host also admitted to the committee that he personally did not have to worry about student loan debt post-college. However, after he surveyed his audience of about 200 members on an episode of Patriot Act regarding student loans, he learned that they owed more than $6 million as a group. That is about $30,000 per person. Minhaj humorously noted, "Granted, our audience is mainly unemployed poly sci majors, but that's still a lot of money."
He also mentioned a recent trend wherein students or graduates resort to reaching out to their favorite celebrities or pop stars in an effort to escape student debt. "I think it's a huge problem that the youth of America have to bombard their favorite rapper or pop musician and ask them to pay back their student loans," Minhaj proclaimed. "They're not even asking for selfies anymore. Are you a fan of Taylor Swift? Are you a Swiftie? Even her fans have gone up to her and asked if she would pay off her student loans. That's how desperate student borrowers are."
The comedian was joined by numerous Congresspeople—across the political spectrum—who believed that the student debt crisis is an emergency that required immediate attention. Republican Representative Patrick McHenry, for example, affirmed, "I know everyone wants a bogeyman, and the student loan servicers are a convenient bogeyman, but guess what — look in the mirror, Congress. Congress created this crisis." Seth Frotman, founder of the nonprofit Student Borrower Protection Center Now, also testified. He noted, "Like kerosene on a fire, student debt is driving the systemic economic and racial inequality that is tearing our communities apart and tearing our country apart. Regardless of where your presuppositions of blame for this crisis lie, we should all agree on one thing: If you are taking on debt to chase the American Dream, you should not be ripped off in the process." Now that the hearing has been completed, lawmakers hope to find a solution to the quickly exacerbating problem.