Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ taxpayer-provided security detail from the U.S. Marshals Service is going to be even costlier in 2019.
According to a Wednesday article in Politico, Secretary DeVos’ 24/7 security detail from U.S. Marshals will fall just short of $8 million, which is a significant increase from the $6.79 million allocated for DeVos’ personal security in 2018.
No Secretary of Education prior to DeVos has ever had to be protected by U.S. Marshals, typically relying on the small security force provided by the Department of Education. However, Secretary DeVos may just be the most unpopular cabinet official in the entire Trump administration, having only squeaked by her confirmation with help from a tiebreaker vote cast by Vice President Mike Pence.
While $7.7 million is chump change compared to the Department of Education’s annual budget of approximately $70 billion, the true cost can be better understood by comparing it to the average student borrower’s debt load. According to statistics compiled by Student Loan Hero, the class of 2017 graduated with an average burden of $39,400 in student debt.
When dividing $7.7 million by $39,400, this means that Betsy DeVos’ security budget could instead be used to completely erase the debt loads of almost 200 student borrowers (195.4, to be exact).
And of course, when taking the $5.4 billion net worth of the DeVos family into account, the Education Secretary could easily pay for her own security detail out of her own pocket and likely never miss it. The DeVos’ SeaQuest yacht — which vandals briefly set adrift in July — is worth approximately $40 million by itself, meaning if she sold it, she could pay for a 24/7 security detail from the U.S. Marshals for more than five years. She’d likely never miss the SeaQuest either, since the DeVos family has nine other yachts.
Oh, and she also has four private airplanes and two private helicopters, according to Newsweek.
Ever since her confirmation in February of 2017, Secretary DeVos has taken numerous actions that have punished student borrowers while rewarding their debtors. One of the more recent sleights to student borrowers has been the Department of Education’s refusal to honor promises made to graduates who agreed to take lower-paying jobs in the public and nonprofit sectors in exchange for having their debt loads erased — also known as the public service student loan forgiveness program. As of September 2018, less than one percent of the program’s applicants ended up having their loans forgiven.
The student debt crisis continues to be perhaps the biggest issue holding young Americans back, with more than 44 million Americans holding roughly $1.5 trillion in total student debt — $1.3 trillion of which comes from federal student loans. Higher student debt loads contribute to the declining U.S. birth rate, and declining homeownership rates among younger generations. An August report in CNBC found that 83 percent of Americans between the ages of 22 and 35 with student debt said their debt loads were preventing them from buying houses.
Logan Espinoza is a freelance contributor specializing in economic issues. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and daughter. Contact him at logan DOT espinoza AT yahoo DOT com.