Senators from both sides of the political aisle duked it out Sunday over President Biden’s student-loan bailout, with GOPers calling it “monumentally unfair’’ and foes saying it finally helps the working class.
Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri said he was the first in his family to graduate from college and agreed that “education is important” — but despite that insisted the president’s federal giveaway is “just bad economics.
“I just thought it was monumentally unfair, unfair to people who didn’t go to college because they didn’t think they could afford it, unfair to people who pay their loans back, unfair to people who got higher education in an area that the government didn’t make loans, and just bad economics,” the pol said on ABC News’ “This Week.”
“In addition to that, I think it’s going to have a long-term devastating effect on a student-loan program that worked pretty effectively until about 10 years ago, when the federal government assumed responsibility for that program,” he said.
Biden, following through on a campaign promise, announced Thursday that his administration would forgive $10,000 for borrowers individually earning less than $125,000 a year or $250,000 as a family.
People who received federal Pell Grants and make less than $125,000 will be eligible for another $10,000 in debt to be wiped away.
Blunt pointed to the $250,000 family-income threshold to note that the program is unfair to people who had a “challenge going to college.”
You “could have a joint filing where one of the people’s currently not working and the other one makes $250,000. And they get $20,000 forgiven by the federal government. That’s just wrong,” Blunt said.
“Here [the administration is] doing it right before the election, and I think people know they got their debt forgiven. Other people won’t know the impact that has on them or their taxes between now and Election Day,” Blunt said.
An analysis of the plan by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated that the cost to taxpayers would be substantial — between $400 billion and $600 billion over the next 10 years.
But Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who has been advocating for tuition-free colleges for years, said Biden’s loan forgiveness levels the playing field.
“Sixty percent of the benefits go to people who are on Pell Grants. Eighty-seven percent of the benefits go to people making $75,000 a year,” Sanders said on ABC’ News’ “This Week” after Blunt’s appearance.
“Look, I know it is shocking, George, to some Republicans that the government actually, on occasion, does something to benefit working families and low-income people,” he told host George Stephanopoulos.
“I don’t hear any of these Republicans squawking when we get massive tax breaks to billionaires, when we have an effective tax rate today, such as the [top earning] 1% have a lower effective tax rate than working people,” he said.
“But suddenly, when we do something for working people, it’s a terrible idea,” he said.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said she’s happy to see Americans who have been struggling to repay student loans getting some relief, but she insisted that the program should go further to curtail the costs of higher education, calling them “exorbitant.
“Part of what it does is, it deals with the debt that has been built up because the cost of college has gone up, because taxpayers have made fewer investments in our public colleges and universities, because for-profit colleges have swooped in and figured out that they can cheat a lot of students,” Warren said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
”We need to deal directly with the cost of college, absolutely,” she said.
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