Sanders Rebukes GOP for Hypocritical “Squawking” About Student Debt Relief

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) rebuked Republicans on Sunday for complaining about President Joe Biden’s recently announced plan to cancel up to $20,000 of student debt, which will deliver much-needed relief to millions of borrowers.

Sanders criticized the GOP for griping about the cost and benefits of the student debt relief plan while staying mum about the trillions of dollars that they and other politicians have handed out to corporations and the wealthy.

“I know it is shocking, George, to some Republicans that the government actually, on occasion, does something to benefit working families and low-income people,” Sanders told ABC’s George Stephanopolous.

“I don’t hear any of these Republicans squawking when we give massive tax breaks to billionaires, when we have an effective tax rate today such that the 1 percent have a lower effective tax rate than working people, when major corporations don’t pay a nickel in federal taxes — that’s okay,” he said. “But suddenly, when we do something for working people, it is a terrible idea.”

The senator also emphasized on Twitter that Republicans regularly advocate for “socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for the rest.”

“I hear Republicans complaining about $20,000 in student debt forgiveness,” he wrote. “Funny, I didn’t hear those complaints when Trump declared bankruptcy 6 times & had $287 million in loans forgiven by big banks.”

Indeed, it was Republicans who delivered major tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy in 2017, a plan which even the Trump administration estimated cost the government about $2 trillion. Republicans also bore partial responsibility for blocking major reforms to the tax code that were proposed during last year’s reconciliation bill talks, which would have leveled the playing field between the working class and the 1 percent.

Biden announced a long-awaited plan last week to cancel $10,000 in student debt for those with incomes less than $125,000 a year, with an additional $10,000 of cancellation for those who received Pell Grants in school.

Republicans didn’t wait long to begin complaining about the plan’s cost and that it will go to people who they deem undeserving. On his podcast last week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) denigrated “slacker barista[s]” who will benefit from the relief, claiming that they need to “get off the bong for a minute.” He also lamented that the student debt plan could drive up turnout for Democrats this fall.

Cruz was widely mocked for his comments on social media, with people like former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner saying that baristas work harder than Cruz has ever worked.

Sanders highlighted Cruz’s comment for its casual cruelty and posted a video on Twitter highlighting his conversations with real student debtors about the crushing burden of their debt.

“Senator Cruz, let me introduce to you a group of nurses and working class Americans who, in many cases, are working two jobs and over 40 hours a week just to pay off their student debt and pay for the basic necessities of life,” he wrote. “No, they are not slackers. They deserve relief.”

The White House has also pushed back against Republican criticisms. Last week, the White House pointed out on Twitter that Republicans like Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene (Georgia) and Matt Gaetz (Florida) have been complaining that some student loan borrowers are getting a mere $10,000 of relief while they themselves got hundreds of thousands of dollars of loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgiven.

Though Greene said that it’s “unfair” for people to see relief under the program, she had about $184,000 in PPP loans forgiven, the White House pointed out. And, while Gaetz complained about the supposed cost of the forgiveness program, Gaetz had over $482,000 in PPP loans forgiven.