Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis slammed the Biden administration’s college debt relief plan Thursday, arguing that taxpayers who don’t seek higher education shouldn’t foot the bill for those who do.
“It’s very unfair to have a truck driver have to pay back a loan for someone that got a Ph.D. in gender studies,” DeSantis, a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School, told reporters at an unrelated news conference. “That’s not fair. That’s not right.”
Asserting that “an entire generation is now saddled with unsustainable debt,” President Biden announced Wednesday that his administration would nix up to $20,000 in student loan debt held by borrowers who got federal Pell Grants and earn less than $125,000 individually or $250,000 as part of a household. The proposal would also erase $10,000 in debt for non-Pell Grant recipients.
The White House estimates that up to 20 million Americans could see their student loans completely written off as a result of the order.
But DeSantis said Thursday that the plan penalizes those who managed to pay off their college debts on their own.
“It’s unfair to people who took out loans and worked hard and paid off their loans,” he said, before warning that the measure would fuel further inflation.
Rather than shift the burden to taxpayers, the Florida governor said universities — many of them flush with large endowments — should shoulder more of a responsibility for the debt crisis.
“If they’re producing people who went deep into debt and their degree isn’t worth anything and they’re not able to make enough money to pay it back — then it’s on them,” DeSantis said.
The Republican also echoed other GOP critics of Biden’s plan by saying it was unconstitutional and would likely face reversal in the courts.
“He does not have the constitutional authority to do this,” DeSantis said. “He is relying on emergency powers because of COVID. Wait a minute. You got a gender studies degree five years ago and that has something to do with COVID?”
Critics of Biden’s plan have argued that only Congress can relieve debtors of their student loans, a point argued by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last year.
The White House says it has the authority to cancel debt under a 2003 law giving the Education Department broad authority to help student loan recipients in the event of a national emergency.
Biden said in his remarks Wednesday that loan cancellation would help “families who need it the most — working and middle-class people hit especially hard during the pandemic.”
The president went on to argue that loan obligations have financially immobilized millions, and that his initiative would provide them with a fresh start.
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