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White House calls out Republicans who criticized student loan cancellation but had thousands in PPP loans forgiven

White House faces pushback over student loans
Biden administration faces pushback over student loan debt 04:54

The White House is not taking criticism of the decision to forgive student debt lying down. After some Republican lawmakers tweeted or went on broadcasts to condemn the decision, the White House Twitter page responded by quote tweeting their comments – and sharing just how much each of them benefited from having their Paycheck Protection Program loans forgiven. 

The uncharacteristic Twitter thread from the White House came shortly after President Biden announced his plan to erase thousands of dollars in student loans, a move that will help more than 40 million people who have a combined $1.7 trillion in student loan debt. Under the plan, borrowers who earn less than $125,000 will be eligible to have $10,000 in student loan debt forgiven. Those in that income range who had Pell Grants in college will be eligible for an additional $10,000 in forgiveness.  

It was a decision that triggered criticism from GOP lawmakers, and even a few Democrats.

GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene went on NewsMax to talk about Mr. Biden's plans, and said that forgiving student loans isn't fair for those who didn't go to college. 

"For our government just to say, 'OK, well your debt is completely forgiven''s completely unfair," she said, according to a clip of the broadcast that was shared by the White House. "And taxpayers all over the country, taxpayers that never took out a student loan, taxpayers that pay their bills and maybe even never went to college and are just hardworking people, they shouldn't have to pay off the great big student loan debt for some college student that piled up massive debt going to some Ivy League school. That's not fair." 

The White House then called out her and others who benefited from their own loan forgiveness through the Paycheck Protection Program. 

PPP loans were given out earlier in the COVID pandemic to help businesses keep their workforce employed. The program ended on May 31, 2021, and has allowed borrowers to have their loans forgiven depending on employee and compensation levels and how the loan money was spent. The program was sometimes plagued by fraud. 

One study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that the program cost taxpayers $4 for every $1 of wages and benefits that workers who had their jobs "saved" by the program received. 

According to the White House, Greene and others benefited heavily from this loan forgiveness. The White House retweeted the congresswoman's clip and said she had $183,504 in PPP loans forgiven. 

GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan of Florida tweeted out a segment of him speaking on Fox Business about the loan, saying in the tweet that he was a "blue-collar kid who worked his way through college." 

"I know firsthand the sacrifices people make to receive an education," he said. "Biden's reckless, unilateral student loan giveaway is unfair to the 87 percent of Americans without student loan debt and those who played by the rules." 

According to the White House, Buchanan had more than $2.3 million in PPP loans forgiven. 

GOP Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma said farmers, ranchers, small business owners and teachers in his state don't need to be "paying the debts of Ivy League lawyers and doctors across the U.S." He had more than $1.4 million in PPP loans forgiven, according to the White House.

Republican lawmakers Kevin Hern, Mike Kelly and Matt Gaetz also had more than $1 million, $987,000, and $482,300 forgiven, respectively, according to the White House. 

Mr. Biden's plan and the criticism that followed come as the cost of college continues on its upward trend. 

According to CollegeBoard, tuition has increased across essentially all higher education settings in the U.S. since the early '90s. Public two-year schools had the lowest increase, from $2,310 in the 1991-92 year to $3,800 in 2021-22. Public four-year schools saw an average increase from $4,160 to $10,740 during that time frame. 

Four-year private nonprofits, however, showed the steepest increase: from $19,360 in 1991 to $38,070 in 2021. 

From 2010-11 to 2020-21, federal aid decreased by 32%, accounting for inflation. Pell Grants declined by 39% during that time and veterans' benefits declined by 3%. 

Mr. Biden directly addressed Congressional Republicans on Thursday who are against student loan forgiveness.

"I will never apologize for helping America's middle class," he tweeted, "especially not to the same folks who voted for a $2 trillion tax cut for the wealthy and giant corporations that racked up the deficit."

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