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Senate Republicans want the Biden administration to forgive zero student loan debt

Some Senate Republicans have openly admitted they oppose President Joe Biden granting student loan relief because it’s too popular.

By Josh Israel - April 28, 2022
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT)

Senate Republicans are pushing legislation to force Americans with student loan debt to repay every cent, with no more delays. Several GOP politicians are also railing against President Joe Biden’s efforts to freeze and reduce student loan debt, complaining that it is too popular.

A December Morning Consult poll found that 62% of registered voters support some loan forgiveness.

Biden’s administration — like former President Donald Trump’s before it — has used its executive powers to place a moratorium on student loan payments due during the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden is reportedly considering an extension of that pause and a plan to cancel up to $10,000 of debt for everyone with outstanding student loans.

With congressional Republicans eager to pretend the coronavirus is no longer a problem, the moratorium is one of several programs they want to halt. They have long opposed student loan forgiveness, calling Biden’s previous efforts to do so an “abuse of executive authority.”

“Dropped a new bill today blocking Biden from delaying/canceling student loan debt repayment,” tweeted Senate Minority Whip John Thune on Wednesday.

He and GOP Sens. Mike Braun (IN), Richard Burr (NC), Bill Cassidy (LA), and Roger Marshall (KS) introduced a bill that would block Biden from canceling existing student loan debt and restrict his ability to temporarily halt collection.

“As Americans continue to return to the workforce more than two years since the pandemic began, it is time for borrowers to resume repayment of student debt obligation,” Thune said. “Taxpayers and working families should not be responsible for continuing to bear the costs associated with this suspension of repayment.”

But Thune and his fellow Republican senators had no issue voting for the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which disproportionately helped the highest wage earners by slashing taxes for corporations and the wealthiest Americans, added more than a trillion dollars to the national debt, and raised taxes on about 10 million American families.

Last February, Senate Republicans voted to make the Trump tax cuts permanent, while opposing COVID-19 relief checks for struggling American workers and legislation to make child care more affordable.

In recent days, Republican lawmakers have railed against the possibility of new student loan debt forgiveness.

“Forgiving student debt is a massive windfall to the rich, to the college-educated, and most of all to the corrupt university administrators of America,” complained Ohio Republican candidate J.D. Vance. “No bailouts for a corrupt system. Republicans must fight this with every ounce of our energy and power.”

Several others suggested that Biden, who was chosen by more than 81 million voters in 2020 to represent them, would be wrong to do something that he campaigned on and the American public wants.

“This is another cheap Democrat[ic] ploy to help their plummeting approval ratings,” groused Texas Rep. Brian Babin.

Utah Rep. Blake Moore condemned “more executive action to potentially ‘cancel’ student loan debt just to pander to voters.”

Mehmet Oz, a Senate hopeful in Pennsylvania, said, “Hardworking Americans will have to foot the bill because some far-left activists thought this idea would distract voters from their terrible agenda.”

“Desperate polls call for desperate measures: Dems consider forgiving trillions in student loans,” tweeted Utah Sen. Mitt Romney. “Other bribe suggestions: Forgive auto loans? Forgive credit card debt? Forgive mortgages? And put a wealth tax on the super-rich to pay for it all. What could possibly go wrong?”

But Romney and nearly every other Republican in Congress offered no such objections in March 2020 to a bipartisan pandemic relief package that provided hundreds of billions of dollars to businesses in the form of forgivable loans.

Romney, who was the unsuccessful Republican presidential nominee in 2012, infamously was caught on tape in that campaign telling rich donors that 47% would vote for President Barack Obama because they “are dependent upon government” and “believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.” He later blamed his loss on Obama distributing “gifts” to voting constituencies.

Thune also suggested Wednesday that student loans shouldn’t be canceled because many of the people who owe them might earn a lot of money later, writing, “The vast majority of student loan debt is held by Americans w/ high earning potential (ex. Drs./lawyers).”

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton used a similar argument, opposing relief as only helping people who went to college while adding to the nation’s debt. “Why should a trucker who didn’t go to college have to pay off a lawyer’s student loan debt?” he demanded, and asked, “Why should those who didn’t go to college or responsibly paid their loans be responsible for $13,000 in new debt?”

In 2019, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley even said people appreciate their education more if they owe tens of thousands of dollars after graduation.

“I think we all understand that you probably appreciate a little more your education if you’ve got some skin in the game,” he told Radio Iowa at the time.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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