Joe Biden always knew that the forgiveness of $10,000 per borrower in student loan debt would be politically controversial. On the one hand, he’d receive the gratitude — and votes — of millions of younger voters for taking $10K in debt off their balance sheets. But on the other hand, there are those millions of voters who might resent these younger voters dodging their responsibility — a responsibility they willingly took on — all because they’re an important voting bloc for the Democratic Party.
The three dozen or so vulnerable Democrats and Democratic candidates running in red states know about the controversy as well. And they’re running away from Biden and his student debt fiasco as fast as they can.
Tim Ryan, the Democrats’ Ohio Senate nominee, released a critical statement: “Waiving debt for those already on a trajectory to financial security sends the wrong message to millions of Ohioans without a degree working just as hard to make ends meet.”
Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators up for re-election this year, told Axios: “I don’t agree with today’s executive action because it doesn’t address the root problems that make college unaffordable.”
New Hampshire Rep. Chris Pappas, running in a swing district that Biden carried by six points, said in a statement: “This announcement by President Biden is no way to make policy and sidesteps Congress and our oversight and fiscal responsibilities. Any plan to address student debt should go through the legislative process, and it should be more targeted and paid for so it doesn’t add to the deficit.”
Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, facing a competitive race in a state Biden carried by 13 points, said the relief should have been “more targeted” and the administration should have laid out how they’ll pay for it.
They all sound like Republicans.
Former Bill Clinton economic advisor Larry Summers doesn’t understand it.
Scarce public resources should be put to their highest and best use, regardless of how they are derived. Debt relief rather than head start? Adequate funding of fundamental science? COVID care? Strengthening opportunities for non-college workers? I don’t get it.
— Lawrence H. Summers (@LHSummers) August 23, 2022
Summers is thinking like an economist, not a politician. There are a gazillion other uses for $300 billion and relieving people of a responsibility to pay back what they borrowed is only one of them.
Last year, Summers presciently argued that Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID spending package risked fueling inflation. He’s again raising concerns about a major Biden policy priority. In both instances, Biden has listened more to progressive Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren than centrist voices in the party.
If it had been up to Warren and the radical left, Biden would have forgiven all $1.6 trillion in student loan debt. That would have sent most Democratic politicians running for the exits. As it is, he’s in trouble with anyone in his party to the right of Vladimir Lenin.