Those debating between the 2022 Ford F-150 vs 2022 Chevy Silverado 1500 got a welcomed surprise this week with the announcement that the federal government will soon cancel any outstanding loans on pickup trucks bought within the last 10 years. It’s an unexpected move from the Biden Administration, which debuted the new program in response to the uproar surrounding the student loan forgiveness program unveiled in late August of this year.
The Truck Loan Forgiveness Program (TLFP) is designed to not only placate those who were incensed by the student loan forgiveness effort but also provide some financial relief for drivers who felt they were misled by the savvy marketing efforts of Ford, Chevy, and the like. A study commissioned by the White House found that the greatest common denominator among the student loan forgiveness detractors was truck ownership, making the new TLFP a no-brainer as a slam-dunk policy proposal ahead of the crucial 2022 midterm elections.
The program does have some limits: it can only be put towards one vehicle per household and is limited to American-made vehicles. Additionally, a driver’s participation in the TLFP will be automatically noted every time they make a social media post that’s critical of student loan borrowers, stimulus payments, and social safety nets with a handy pop-up that reads “this person received a free truck from the government.”
The reality of pickup ownership, and the associated cost of monthly payments, insurance, and fuel, has taken the shine off the experience for many pickup owners. Years of ads featuring rugged, mud-splattered trucks traversing bold landscapes and pursuing endless adventure created some high, if unrealistic, expectations about how much a vehicle can change one’s life.
“The commercial I saw showed a Chevy Silverado 1500 towing a big boat for a weekend at the lake, but with the type of monthly payment I was locked into, I couldn’t even afford an inner tube, not to mention a whole-ass boat,” says Chet Franks, Silverado owner, and TLFP evangelist. “This program is going to make all the difference for me and my family. I know it’s a one-time deal, but I can only imagine the next truck I’m going to be able to afford with this expense off the books.”
Pickup drivers like Larry Eldridge say that despite the dense legal-ese found in every advertisement, automakers have a responsibility to deliver a certain bill of goods as depicted in their marketing material. “I bought my GMC Sierra because the ad showed a happy family celebrating a winning little league season. I shelled out almost $50,000 on this damn truck, and my kids still suck at sports, so tell me, who’s the liar?” he says.
While Eldridge is a fan of the TLFP program, he said it still hasn’t warmed him to Biden. “I won’t vote for that man unless I see a birth certificate. I’m not concerned so much about where he was born as much as when because he gives off some distinct vampire vibes,” says Eldridge.
The long-promised student loan forgiveness program, which will erase between $10,000 and $20,000 in debt for qualified borrowers, irked some Americans who felt it unfairly benefitted those who had yet to pay off their student loans. While this small but vocal minority didn’t seem to take issue with the PPP loan forgiveness program, airline and cruise ship industry bailouts, or innumerable tax cuts for the rich enacted by Trump and previous Republican administrations, they’ve come after student loan borrowers with a level of fury that can’t even be subdued by a long and thorough explanation of the term “hypocrisy.”
“No, I don’t know what ‘irony’ means because I was too busy trying to put food on the table rather than getting myself 200,000 dollars in debt to play frisbee on the quad and study Chilean Racoon Opera or whatever,” says Franks. “I appreciate the free truck, but this is America, and in America, we pay our debts,” said Frank, who received a $45,000 loan through the PPP to keep his duct tape wallet business afloat through the pandemic. That loan was later forgiven by the federal government, canceling Frank’s debt and allowing him to invest in a new 23-foot American flag for his truck.