On Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced $10,000 in student-loan forgiveness for some borrowers.
Some Republicans have said that the forgiveness is unfair and burdens other taxpayers.
Biden pointed to the tax breaks that billion-dollar businesses get and asked if that was fair.
President Joe Biden fulfilled a long-awaited and much-discussed campaign promise on Wednesday, announcing the cancellation of $10,000 in student-loan debt for some borrowers.
It's a move that's already inspired praise from some Democrats — as well as criticism that it wasn't enough to ease the $1.7 trillion crisis — and swift backlash from Republicans. GOP party members began sniping that the cancellation amounts to taxpayers subsidizing other people's loans.
"President Biden's student-loan socialism is a slap in the face to every family who sacrificed to save for college, every graduate who paid their debt, and every American who chose a certain career path or volunteered to serve in our Armed Forces in order to avoid taking on debt," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote in a statement. "This policy is astonishingly unfair."
It's a criticism Biden was quick to rebuke.
Following remarks on student-loan forgiveness, a reporter asked the president if the measure was unfair toward "people who paid their student loans or chose not to take out loans."
"Is it fair to people who, in fact, do not own multibillion-dollar businesses if they see one of these guys getting all the tax breaks? Is that fair?" Biden said. "What do you think?"
Biden has repeatedly slammed large corporations for paying little or nothing in federal income taxes, something he's attempted to change through proposals to raise the corporate-tax rate. "I'm sick and tired of ordinary people being fleeced," Biden said of the proposed tax hike.
The relief announcement will impact approximately 43 million borrowers, according to the White House, with 20 million borrowers seeing their full debt load forgiven.
"That's 20 million people who can start getting on with their lives," Biden said. "All this means people can start finally crawling up from under that mountain of debt, to get on top of their rent and utilities, to finally think about buying a home or starting a family, starting a business. And by the way, when this happens, the whole economy is better off."
Progressive lawmakers have lobbied for student-loan relief for years
Shortly before Biden's White House remarks, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York — who has been one of the most forceful congressional advocates for full cancellation — tweeted that student-loan debt is "immoral."
Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the chair of the House Progressive Caucus, said that student-loan relief would help address racial inequities.
"Canceling student debt is a racial justice issue and will help to close the racial wealth gap. This is a major step forward," she tweeted.
Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, who is in a tough reelection fight against Herschel Walker, a former NFL star, this fall, has pushed the administration to address student-loan reform since he joined the upper chamber after his 2021 runoff election.
"Easing student debt will provide long-term benefits for hardworking Georgians of all ages, as well as our economy," he tweeted. "I'm grateful President Biden has listened to me & the people of Georgia."
Warnock also said that he would "keep fighting for additional student relief" by tackling issues such as college affordability and the creation of more job-workforce programs.
However, not all Democrats are in unison on debt cancellation.
Rep. Chris Pappas of New Hampshire, who also faces a difficult reelection campaign, argued that the issue should be left to Congress.
"We all know the cost of higher education is crushing families, and that's why I've supported expanding Pell Grants, affordable community college, and loan forgiveness for those entering vital professions like nursing," he said in a statement. "But this announcement by President Biden is no way to make policy and sidesteps Congress and our oversight and fiscal responsibilities."
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