Longtime Democratic Party strategist Paul Begala shredded President Biden’s sweeping student loan forgiveness plan as “terrible policy” on Sunday.
Begala, a key adviser to former President Bill Clinton before and during his successful run for office in 1992, argued Biden’s plan was neither politically expeditious nor likely to help those most in need of financial assistance.
“It’s bad policy as well as bad politics,” Begala said during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “For that amount of money, you could fund free Pre-K for every 3 and 4-year-old for 10 years. You’d do a lot more good for poor people, communities of color and the underprivileged by doing Pre-K,”
“You could forgive all medical debt, which, unlike student debt, is not freely entered into,” Begala added. “I’m a progressive, I want to help folks. But I think this is terrible policy.”
Aside from debt forgiveness, Biden’s plan also extends the current pause on federal student loan payments through the end of the year.
Mediaite earlier reported Begala’s remarks.
The White House claims that Biden’s plan to forgive up to $20,000 in student loans per borrower, depending on their eligibility, will cost $240 billion over the next decade. But an analysis by the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget found the plan “will likely cost an astronomical $400-$600 billion” over time.
Begala noted that many prominent Democratic lawmakers face tough re-election fights, such as Sen. Tim Ryan of Ohio, have spoken out against the debt forgiveness plan. Meanwhile, those most in favor of the idea, such as progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, reside in solidly Democratic states.
“What is my party doing with this? They’re disadvantaging, I think they’re not helping the people that we’re here to help, which is poor people and underprivileged communities and they’re not helping their politicians who are running.”
Biden has insisted that his program, which fulfilled a campaign pledge, will help tens of millions of Americans “saddled with unsustainable debt.”
But the president has faced stiff resistance from both sides of the political aisle. Many progressives say Biden’s plan doesn’t go far enough and he should have eliminated college debt entirely.
Other Democrats, such as former Obama economic adviser Jason Furman and ex-Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, have warned the plan is fiscally irresponsible given the current inflation crisis impacting the US economy.
Meanwhile, Republicans say the plan is inflationary, fiscally irresponsible and that it constitutes executive overreach.