Updated Aug 26, 2022 - Economy

White House fires back at GOP over student loan plan criticism

Photo of Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene speaking from a podium

Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene speak at a news conference on Jan. 6, 2022 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

The White House is calling out Republican lawmakers who it says had Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans forgiven after they accused the Biden administration of giving out unfair handouts with its new student debt forgiveness plan.

Driving the news: A video circulated this week of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) saying, "For our government just to say, 'OK, your debt is completely forgiven.' ... It's completely unfair." In response, the White House's official account on Thursday tweeted: "Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene had $183,504 in PPP loans forgiven."

  • In similar comments, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) tweeted, "Asking plumbers and carpenters to pay off the loans of Wall Street advisors and lawyers isn’t just unfair. It's also bad policy."
  • Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) tweeted, "This places undue burden on those already suffering due to the weight of Biden’s failed economic policy."
  • Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) also claimed the plan forces Americans to pay for other people's college degrees.

Worth noting: Kelly later followed up with another tweet on Friday, saying, "A Democrat governor declared my family's business non-essential and shut our doors. This money saved over 160 essential jobs in Western Pennsylvania during the pandemic. PPP loans are designed to be forgiven. Student loans are not."

The big picture: The official White House Twitter account listed the value of what it said was each lawmaker's forgiven PPP loans in corresponding tweets: Kelly at $987,237, Mullin at over $1.4 million and Hern at over $1 million.

  • The White House tweeted that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) had forgiven PPP loans of $482,321 — though that was in response to the lawmaker's criticism of Ukrainian aid spending.
  • Representatives of the lawmakers the White House targeted in its tweets did not respond to Axios' requests for comment.

State of play: The Biden administration's plan cancels up to $20,000 in student debt for Pell Grant recipients and up to $10,000 for individual borrowers who make under $125,000 per year. It also extends the pause on repayments by four months.

Worth noting: Democrats running in battleground Senate and House races panned the student loan relief plan within hours of its release — a sign of fears that it could alienate swing voters in November, Axios' Josh Kraushaar reports.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with quotes from a follow-up tweet by Rep. Kelly.

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