Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday lamented conservative criticism of President Joe Biden’s plan for student debt forgiveness.
“I know it is shocking, George, to some Republicans that the government actually, on occasion, do something to benefit working families and low-income people,” Sanders said to host George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.” “I don’t hear any of these Republicans squawking when we give massive tax breaks to billionaires.”
Asked whether the debt relief was fair to people who had paid off loans or who didn’t go to college, Sanders acknowledged that “in a sense, that criticism is correct.”
But, he continued, “The answer is not to deny help to people who cannot deal with these horrendous student debts … The answer is that maybe, just maybe, we want to have a government that works for all working people and not just the people on top.”
Biden announced this week that his administration would relieve up to $10,000 of student loan debt for borrowers making up to $125,000 annually, and up to $20,000 for people who had received Pell grants.
Less enthusiastic about the debt relief Sunday was Rep. Tim Ryan, who appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Ryan is the Democratic nominee for Ohio’s open Senate seat.
“I understand the burden of it. My wife and I are still paying her student loans off. But there are a lot of people hurting in our society right now,” including many who didn’t attend college, Ryan said.
Instead, he proposed a broader tax cut, renegotiating loan interest rates or incorporating relief into a larger package.
“This direct, targeted thing, I don’t think, is sending the right message,” Ryan said.
The move fulfilled a campaign promise, though Biden had previously expressed skepticism about canceling large amounts of debt.
Sanders, for his part, ran on a plan to cancel nearly all student debt when he campaigned for president in 2020. He has also long supported making public universities free, as well as expanding financial aid.
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