Mitch McConnell joins Republicans in railing against Biden's 'cynical and outrageous' student-loan forgiveness plan: 'This policy is astonishingly unfair'

Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
  • Biden announced $10,000 in student-loan forgiveness for borrowers making under $125,000 a year.

  • Mitch McConnell slammed the relief, calling it "astonishingly unfair."

  • Republicans have long criticized broad student-debt relief plans, calling them costly and unnecessary.

After over two years, student-loan relief has finally arrived for millions of federal borrowers. Republicans aren't happy.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced he will be canceling $10,000 in student debt for borrowers making under $125,000 a year, along with up to $20,000 in relief for Pell Grant recipients. While this move was lauded by many Democratic lawmakers and advocates — with some continuing to push for even more relief — Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell were less than pleased with the president's announcement.

"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," McConnell wrote in a statement. "This policy is astonishingly unfair."

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"This is cynical and outrageous but perfectly in character for these Democrats," McConnell added: "Taking money and purchasing power away from working families and redistributing it to their favored friends."

—Leader McConnell (@LeaderMcConnell) August 24, 2022

Leading up to Wednesday's announcement, many Republican lawmakers have grown increasingly vocal on their criticism surrounding any broad relief. A group of them recently introduced legislation to ban Biden from further extending the student-loan payment pause — Biden extended it on Wednesday for his fifth time, through December 31. Following the announcement of relief, top Republican on the House education committee Virginia Foxx called the actions "wrong, unfair, and irresponsible."

"President Biden will say and do anything to appease his radical progressive base, even if it means bankrupting our country and kneecapping taxpayers in the midst of an inflation crisis. This is a slap in the face to those who never went to college, as well as borrowers who upheld their responsibility to taxpayers and paid back their loans," Foxx said. "It's a signal to every freshman stepping foot on campus to borrow as much as they can because taxpayers are picking up the tab."

Many Republicans have argued that canceling student debt isn't fair. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wrote on Twitter that "hard-working Americans" will be forced to pay off any broad debt relief.

—Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) August 24, 2022

Amid GOP pushback, Democrats have maintained that canceling student debt, even for those who never had any loans, is the right thing to do. New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in May that even if debt relief doesn't impact you, "that doesn't make it bad."

"I am sure there are certainly other things that student loan borrowers' taxes pay for," she said. "We can do good things and reject the scarcity mindset that says doing something good for someone else comes at the cost of something for ourselves."

The Education Department said that borrowers can expect more details in the coming weeks in terms of logistics to access the relief, and Democrats have made clear this is not the end of the road for borrowers.

"This is an important first step to provide critical relief to millions of working people struggling to make ends meet under the burden of their debt," Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar wrote on Twitter. "It also can't be the end of this discussion. There are millions more who have so much debt that even $20,000 only puts a small dent in what they owe. We won't stop fighting until we cancel every dollar of student debt for every American."

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