Republicans screech about student debt cancellation, while borrowers cry in relief

Republicans screech about student debt cancellation, while borrowers cry in relief

Republicans didn’t even wait for President Joe Biden to announce up to $20,000 in student debt relief before they started screeching about how terrible it would be for people who don’t have student debt and people who already paid off their student debt. The screeching has been going on for as long as debt cancellation has been discussed, but it reached a fever pitch as Biden’s announcement approached. Hours before, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called debt cancellation, “a slap in the face to working Americans who sacrificed to pay their debt or made different career choices to avoid debt.”

That was the polite version. There’s been a lot of performative Republican weeping over this, some of it extremely hypocritical (of course), and sprinkled lavishly with insults toward the 45 million people in this country with student debt, and the 60% of white college students and 86% of Black college students in school right now who have had to take out loans. There were also plenty of insults and accusations of vote-buying toward Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

But what about the people who just learned that they will be benefiting from the move? What are they saying, and what kind of difference can it make in their lives? Anne Helen Petersen collected some testimonials about the impact student debt relief will have, and I defy you to read it without finding that the room has suddenly gotten very dusty.

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“This forgiveness will save my family $500 a month,” one person wrote. “That’s moving into a larger apartment, so that our future (much wanted!) baby could have a room. I don’t know if people who graduated pre-2008 crash truly understand what it means to not have the family you crave because you got an education.” 

“A 19 year old albatross on my neck, gone in an instant,” wrote another. “I’m so happy, you have no idea! I had Pell grants but my outstanding balance is (was?) $9,293.53. Oldest loan dated 09/30/2003. No politician has ever done so much for me in my entire life! No loan payment means more fresh fruit and veg in our fridge, more books for our boys and now I can afford to get new clothes too. I’m in total disbelief!”

Petersen has many more amazing stories, and expect to see more like this in the days and weeks to come:

Pell grant recipient every step of the way. This takes me from $13000+… to $0. After years of scraping at this, I’m fucking floored. The balance just kept going up because my income based plan didn’t even cover the interest. In tears. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

— Chelsea Bourbon (@Chelsea_Bourbon) August 24, 2022

THANK YOU! (Also, can we talk about getting rid of student loan interest? Because that’s the biggest challenge to pay off and the most immoral aspect of the current structure.) And, again, THANK YOU!!! (I cried when I got the news. It’s going to make a big deal for my family.)

— Rebecca’s new picture book comes out next year. (@KlempnerJots) August 24, 2022

There are also plenty of people coming forward to say they actually don’t feel angry that this comes after they paid off their own loans:

(I owe $700 in private loans and already paid off all my federal loans. If you come into my mentions to whine that you paid yours so other people should pay theirs, I will feed you to that space monster in the black hole.)

— Bree (half of @kitrocha) (@mostlybree) August 24, 2022

hey, person who finally paid off my crippling student loan debt in 2019 here… feeling mighty unslapped. happy other people are getting some relief. https://t.co/rORgwF5DZ9

— Erin Box 13A Ryan (@morninggloria) August 24, 2022

Everyone is not terrible. Being terrible is a choice that supporters of one of the major political parties are making, but it’s not universal. Student debt cancellation is a great thing in a lot of people’s lives—as they’re telling us, and we can be happy for them. We can understand how it’s a good thing that millions of lives are getting easier and choices are opening up for people. Even if we’re not personally benefitting from this right now. 

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