Aug 28, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Sanders pans GOP response to Biden canceling some student loans

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) praised President Biden's decision to cancel some student loans during an appearance on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, saying the move would benefit working families and low-income people.

Driving the news: The Biden administration announced last week that it will cancel 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.

What they're saying: "I know it is shocking, George, to some Republicans that the government on occasion does something to benefit working families and low-income people," Sanders told host George Stephanopoulos.

  • "I don't hear any of these Republicans squawking when we give massive tax breaks to billionaires," he added.
  • Sanders also called for further action, saying that public universities and colleges should be tuition-free to ensure the U.S. is "competitive in a global economy."
  • Sanders responded to criticism of the plan by some Democrats by saying that "in a sense that criticism is correct but the answer is not to deny help to people who cannot deal with these horrendous student debts. ... The answer is that maybe, just maybe, we want to have a government that works for all working people and not just the people on top," calling for higher taxes for the wealthy and higher minimum wage, among other policies.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) appeared on the same program and called the student loan forgiveness "monumentally unfair" to people who didn't go to college or already paid off their loans, as well as "just bad economics."

  • Stephanopoulos pointed out that many economists believe the decision won't increase inflation, a key GOP criticism of the plan. "Well, if that's what they're thinking, most economists are wrong," Blunt said.
  • Sanders later responded to Blunt's criticism of the plan by saying, "He's wrong. Sixty percent of the benefits go to people who were on Pell grants, 87% of the benefits go to people who are making $75,000 a year."

Tim Ryan, the Democrats' Ohio Senate nominee, criticized the plan during an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.

  • "There are a lot of people hurting in our society right now. People are getting crushed with inflation, crushed with gas prices, food prices and all the rest. And I think a targeted approach right now really does send the wrong message," Ryan said.
  • "One of the stupidest things we've ever done in this country is tell everybody they have to go to college. I mean, that was a huge mistake," he added.
  • "We got rid of shop class, got rid of the kind of things that build out the working class and skilled trades, and here we are and we've done nothing to control the cost of college. So we're going to be in the same position in five years."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who had joined other progressives in advocating that Biden cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt, told CNN's "State of the Union" that she was "so happy" to see the decision.

  • "This is about America investing in people who work hard, who play by the rules, and who just need a government on their side," she said.
  • Asked about the cost of college remaining exorbitantly high, Warren conceded that "we have a lot of problems in the whole system" and that "we need to deal directly with the cost of college, absolutely."

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