'Student loan socialism': McConnell slams Biden for forgiving $10K of student loan debt

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President Joe Biden on Aug. 7, 2022.
President Joe Biden on Aug. 7, 2022.

President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he'll forgive $10,000 in federal college debt for tens of millions of Americans, including a lot of Kentuckians, in a move Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell decried as "student loan socialism."

“President Biden’s student loan socialism is a slap in the face to every family who sacrificed to save for college, every graduate who paid their debt and every American who chose a certain career path or volunteered to serve in our Armed Forces in order to avoid taking on debt," McConnell, whose home state has one of the nation's highest poverty rates, said in a statement.

"This policy is astonishingly unfair," he said.

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In a long-awaited decision on student loan forgiveness, Biden announced people with incomes under $125,000 (or $250,000 for their household) will be able to get the following relief:

  • Up to $20,000 of debt cancelled for those who received Pell Grants and have federal student loans

  • Up to $10,000 of debt forgiven for everyone else with federal student loans

This relief is sure to be provided to a lot of people in Kentucky, where government data from March 2022 show about 597,200 people collectively owe nearly $20 billion in federal student loans.

Among borrowers who aren't in college anymore, the Biden administration said it estimates almost 90% of the relief money will benefit folks earning under $75,000 annually.

McConnell accused Biden of giving away "even more government money to elites with higher salaries," saying Wednesday:

"Democrats specifically wrote this policy to make sure that people earning six figures would benefit. ... Democrats are literally using working Americans’ money to try to buy themselves some enthusiasm from their political base."

Before Biden became president, McConnell supported a major package of tax cuts in 2017 when the GOP controlled the White House and Congress. Those cuts benefited richer Americans more than average families, particularly people bringing in over $300,000, USA TODAY reported.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks about the situation in Ukraine on Thursday, calling for the United States to 'ratchet up' the sanctions on Russia. Feb. 24, 2022
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks about the situation in Ukraine on Thursday, calling for the United States to 'ratchet up' the sanctions on Russia. Feb. 24, 2022

Biden, who's also extending a pandemic-era moratorium on student loan payments through the end of this year, presented his plan Wednesday as "an economically responsible course" that will help families.

“All this means people can finally crawl out from under that mountain of debt, to get on top of their rent and utilities, to finally think about buying a home or starting a family or starting a business” he said. “When this happens, the whole economy is better off.”

Here's how much Kentuckians owe in student loan debt

Close to 193,000 Kentuckians owe up to (but not more than) $10,000 in student loan debt to the U.S. government, per federal data from March 2022.

The rest of the commonwealth's nearly 600,000 borrowers owe more than that:

  • 119,300 Kentuckians owe $10,000 to $20,000

  • 131,100 owe $20,000 to $40,000

  • 61,700 owe $40,000 to $60,000

  • 37,200 owe $60,000 to $80,000

  • 19,100 owe $80,000 to $100,000

  • 27,600 owe $100,000 to $200,000

  • 8,600 owe more than $200,000

Kentucky's median household income is $52,238, per U.S. Census data.

USA TODAY contributed to this report. Morgan Watkins is The Courier Journal's chief political reporter. Contact her at mwatkins@courierjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter: @morganwatkins26.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: KY Senator Mitch McConnell slams Joe Biden for student loan, debt plan