President Joe Biden announced a new program on Wednesday that would “forgive up to $20,000 of federal student loan debt for Pell Grant recipients, and up to $10,000 for other qualifying borrowers,” according to NPR. He also extended the federal student debt payment pause to the end of the year.
“In keeping with my campaign promise, my Administration is announcing a plan to give working and middle class families breathing room as they prepare to resume federal student loan payments in January 2023,” Biden tweeted.
Conservatives have attacked the plan as a massive government handout that would dramatically increase inflation while severely hurting Americans who either did not attend college or who worked hard to pay off their debt. As Joel Pollak noted in an article for Breitbart News:
Rewarding those who are not paying their loans is unfair to people who have worked hard — and sacrificed — to pay off their own student debt. It is also unfair to people who made the choice not to attend college — often because of the prospect of debt — who must now pay, as taxpayers, to subsidize others’ student loans, even though they may have their own debts (such as mortgage and car payments). Moreover, despite income caps, wealthier borrowers will find ways to benefit.
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Nothing better illustrated this fairness than an exchange that then-presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren had with an angry father in 2020 after he confronted her about her proposed student loan forgiveness.
“I just wanted to ask one question. My daughter is getting out of school. I’ve saved all my money. She doesn’t have any student loans. Am I going to get my money back?” the father asked.
“Of course not,” Warren replied.
“So you’re going to pay for people who didn’t save any money and those of us who did the right thing get screwed?” he asked. “My buddy had fun, bought a car, and went on all the vacations. I saved my money. He makes more than I did. I worked a double shift.”
“You’re laughing at me,” he added. “Yeah, that’s exactly what you’re doing. We did the right thing and we get screwed.”
“I appreciate your time,” Warren replied as the conversation ended.
During an appearance on CNN Newsroom, Warren said people who previously paid off their student loan debt should be happy about the president’s forgiveness program, saying it will create more economic opportunity.
“Ultimately, what the data show us is that because of student loan debt, there are many people who don’t move out of their mama’s basement, who can’t save up money to buy a home, who don’t start small businesses, who don’t start a family,” she said.
“You relieve the debt burden some for those people, and we have more economic activity. In other words, canceling student loan debt is good for the people whose debt is canceled. But it is also good for our economy and the rest of America,” she added.