Democrats facing tight midterm campaigns in swing states are distancing themselves from President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel $10,000 in student loans per borrower.
White House officials had been weighing the move for months before officially landing on the $10,000 figure this week, although some left-wing lawmakers have supported eliminating debt of up to $50,000 per borrower. Yet Democratic candidates in the heat of election battles are openly opposing the loan cancellation policy.
“We all know the cost of higher education is crushing families … but this announcement by President Biden is no way to make policy and sidesteps Congress and our oversight and fiscal responsibilities,” Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH), who is running to keep his seat in the House of Representatives, said in a statement. “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.”
Biden maintains a dismal 44% approval rating, according to Gallup, which noted that 40% of independents approve of Biden. As vulnerable Democrats attempt to shake Biden’s particularly poor economic record, a survey from CNBC revealed that 59% of Americans are concerned that student debt cancellation “will make inflation worse.”
“The President’s plan also doesn’t address the underlying issue of the affordability of higher education, and it is clear that the high cost continues to limit opportunities available to students,” Pappas continued. “Ultimately we must ensure everyone has the chance to further their education and gain the knowledge and skills they need to thrive, and I’ll continue to make that a priority.”
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), who is running against Republican nominee J.D. Vance for a seat in the Senate, likewise rejected Biden’s move to cancel student debt.
“As someone who’s paying off my own family’s student loans, I know the costs of higher education are too high,” Ryan remarked in a statement. “And while there’s no doubt that a college education should be about opening opportunities, waiving debt for those already on a trajectory to financial security sends the wrong message to the millions of Ohioans without a degree working just as hard to make ends meet.”
Pappas’ approval rating has diminished to 42% ahead of the Republican primary election on September 13, according to a poll from St. Anselm College, while another survey from Emerson College finds Vance leading Ryan by 3% of the Ohio electorate. President Biden carried New Hampshire by seven points in the 2020 election and lost Ohio by eight points to former President Donald Trump.
Beyond those pursuing re-election, leading Democratic economists have spurned the student loan cancellation policy.
Jason Furman, who served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers during the Obama administration, argued that “pouring roughly half trillion dollars of gasoline on the inflationary fire that is already burning is reckless.” Lawrence Summers, who worked as Treasury Secretary and National Economic Council director under the Obama and Clinton administrations, likewise said that the policy “consumes resources that could be better used helping those who did not, for whatever reason, have the chance to attend college.”