April 1, 2023

  • Rep. Tim Ryan said Wednesday that Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan “sends the wrong message.”
  • Ryan believes the program benefits those who are “already on a track to financial security.”
  • The congressman is currently battling Republican JD Vance in Ohio’s open Senate race.

In the closely watched Ohio Senate race, Democratic candidate Tim Ryan has criticized President Joe Biden’s new student loan forgiveness program, saying it “sends the wrong message” and stressed that the administration should “try to balance A playground for all Americans.”

Ryan — who has remained competitive in the Republican-leaning Buckeye state against JD Vance — has long been a populist Democrat in the Mahoning Valley-anchored congressional district.

But his latest statement reflects a major disagreement with much of the party, as he talks about the difficulty of rising college fees, while also arguing that Biden’s plan will benefit high-income workers.

“As someone paying off my own family’s student loans, I know the cost of higher education is simply too high,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “While there’s no question that a college education should be about creating opportunity, debt forgiveness for those already on the track to financial security sends the wrong message to millions of Ohioans without degrees who are equally struggling to make ends meet.”

“Instead of forgiving student loans for six-figure earners, we should work to level the playing field for all Americans,” he added.

Biden announced Wednesday that he will forgive $10,000 of federal student loan debt for borrowers earning less than $125,000 a year and up to $20,000 for those receiving Pell Grants and below the same income threshold. Another key element in the plan is Biden’s passing a new income-driven repayment plan that caps monthly federal student loan repayments at 5 percent of personal income, while his fifth and final Student loan payment suspension extended to December 31.

While Democrats — especially progressive lawmakers — cheered the move, Republicans saw the plan as a giveaway to wealthy taxpayers and blasted Biden for not addressing higher education tuition. They also questioned the absolute legitimacy of Biden’s actions — according to For Fox News, nearly 100 people called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to take action against the president for overstepping his authority with broad relief.

Ryan’s response differed from that of three-term Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, the state’s top senator who has also been a populist throughout his political career.

“Student debt has long held back generations of Americans from pursuing their dreams and seeing their hard work pay off,” Brown said in a statement. “Now, President Biden is keeping his campaign promise to deliver relief, once again. Empower people and empower people in their lives and unlock the potential of a generation of Americans. Many Ohioans will now have the opportunity to start a family, buy a home, and start a business.”

Ryan highlighted economic issues in defeating “Hillman Elegy” author and venture capitalist Vance, a state that has transformed in recent years from a Midwestern battleground into a battleground that former President Donald Trump won comfortably in 2016 and 2020.

After Biden’s announcement, Vance condemned the student loan forgiveness program in a statement.

“Rather than holding administrators accountable for soaring tuition, bloated bureaucratic budgets and a growing corps of ‘diversity’ advisers, Joe Biden has decided to bail out those most in need — individuals earning six figures, and Couples earning close to a quarter. Millions of dollars a year,” he said.

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