A top Republican lawmaker has once again sounded the alarm on broad student-loan forgiveness — and its potential impact on the coming midterm elections.
On Friday, Rep. Virginia Foxx — the leading Republican on the House education committee — wrote an opinion piece for Fox News slamming President Joe Biden’s plans to forgive student debt broadly for federal borrowers.
She wrote that Biden’s forthcoming relief should not be the only cause for concern, given that he has already enacted “widespread debt cancellation” in the form of the pandemic pause on student-loan payments and reforms to other forgiveness programs, like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) waiver implemented in October.
“Clearly the administration is doing this behind closed doors because it knows this is not sound fiscal policy or even remotely justified as ‘targeted relief,’ but rather a blatant political ploy,” Foxx wrote. “It’s not a stretch to assume they are doing as much as they can to bow to progressives before November.”
Foxx added that the payment pause is “a Trojan horse for loan forgiveness” costing taxpayers $150 billion, and she said the reforms to PSLF — a program that forgives student debt for public servants like nonprofit and government workers — to allow previously ineligible payments to qualify is too expansive and would go to “doctors and Georgetown law students.”
As Biden inches closer to a decision on student-loan forgiveness for most federal borrowers, Foxx has been far from quiet in her criticisms. Recent reports have suggested Biden is considering $10,000 in debt cancellation for borrowers making under $150,000 a year, and he will likely announce the plan in July or August, closer to when payments are set to resume.
The administration’s proposal to cap the relief based on income is likely intended to quell pushback from those like Foxx who argue debt cancellation would go to the wealthy, rather than those who would need it the most. But as Insider has previously reported, an income cap would be quite burdensome to implement, and requiring a borrower to apply for relief or verify their income could shut out low-income borrowers who may not know how to use the system and access those materials.
Some Democratic lawmakers have pushed back on the idea of limiting relief. New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently wrote on Twitter that “$10k means tested forgiveness is just enough to anger the people against it *and* the people who need forgiveness the most.”
“We can do better,” she added.
And while some of Foxx’s Republican colleagues have joined her in calling student-loan relief a “bribe” to voters, Democrats like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren have said if Biden wants to live up to his campaign pledges and honor what he told his voters, debt cancellation should be next on his agenda.
“One of the hardest things for an elected official to do is demonstrate to people that they can count on that elected official to be on their side,” Warren previously said. “Canceling student-loan debt for more than 40 million Americans would persuade a lot of young people that this president is in the fight for them.”