Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed on to a letter with other state governors asking President Joe Biden to call off his means-tested plan to cancel $10K of student loan debt per borrower.
The letter, signed by 22 governors, is packed with misconceptions and talking points lifted straight from the airwaves of conservative media outlets. The letter accuses Biden of forgiving the debt of an “elite few” on the backs of average Americans. The truth is 1 in every 5 Americans hold student loan debt. While the majority of student loan debt in dollars and cents is held by wealthy households, the average student loan borrower is not wealthy.
Like all of these intentional misdirections, it falls apart under five seconds of scrutiny. The wealthiest households hold the majority of student loan debt in dollar amounts because they borrowed to go to the most elite schools or to get post-secondary degrees required of high-value professions like lawyers and doctors. Not only are they likely to be excluded under the terms of the forgiveness program, the forgiveness would mean the least to them.
The letter focuses on dollar amounts because the truth of student loan debt is that it’s a massive burden on the lower and middle class people who went to school in an attempt to earn a better living. While the governors call the act “regressive” and “inflationary” the opposite is likely true.
The letter characterizes typical student loan borrowers as able adults, disregarding the fact that the 17 and 18-year-old college attendees are painted as children in just about every other corner of conservative rhetoric. If these governors can think of any other situation where tens of thousands of dollars are loaned out to 18-year-olds with little to no credit history, we’re all ears.
Biden’s loan forgiveness program is not a new tax on the poor and they aren’t cash payments. They are forgiveness of outstanding debts in money that was already distributed by the government and spent by the institutions they paid. That debt in many cases was not being paid, as roughly a quarter of borrowers are delinquent. And none of this gets to the fundamental point that borrowers who make more than $125,000 per year are excluded from the program entirely.
Gov. DeSantis, who received his Bachelor’s from Yale and his law degree from Harvard, is not stupid enough to actually believe the lies this letter is peddling. Still, it plays well on Fox News and he’s got a presidency to consider.