At least a dozen White House officials will be among the beneficiaries of the estimated $300 billion taxpayer-funded student loan debt cancellation President Joe Biden announced Wednesday.
Biden said he would be unilaterally canceling up to $10,000 in student loan debt for individuals earning $125,000 or less and families making $250,000 or less.
Those who received Pell Grants will be eligible for up to $20,000 in debt forgiveness, with the same income thresholds.
In keeping with my campaign promise, my Administration is announcing a plan to give working and middle class families breathing room as they prepare to resume federal student loan payments in January 2023.
I’ll have more details this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/kuZNqoMe4I
— President Biden (@POTUS) August 24, 2022
The watchdog group Inside Biden’s Basement identified at least 12 West Wing staffers and hundreds of political appointees in the Biden administration who may be eligible to take advantage of the debt cancellation.
“Based on the data we have compiled, at least 223 high-ranking Biden appointees still have outstanding loans totaling anywhere between $12.6 million and $31.2 million,” the organization said in a post on its website.
“The four agencies and offices most likely involved in formulating this policy (Education, Treasury, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the White House) also have numerous political appointees who could potentially benefit based on their own public financial disclosures,” Inside Biden’s Basement added.
White House staffers have $3,015,091 to $7,425,000 in outstanding student loan debt, according to the watchdog group.
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The group lists nearly 50 White House staffers with student loans.
Fox News named 12 among them who fit the salary threshold for debt cancellation: Chris Meagher, Claudia Chavez, Hee Jung L Shim, John McCarthy, Justin Oswald, Kelliann Blazek, Maju Varghese, Michael LaRosa, Michael Leach, Rory Brosius, Shilpa Phadke and Zephranie Buetow.
“Some think it’s too much. I find it interesting how some of my Republican friends who voted for those tax cuts and others think that we shouldn’t be helping these folks,” the president continued.
“Some think it’s too little. But I believe my plan is responsible and fair. It focuses the benefit on middle-class and working families, it helps both current and future borrowers, and it will fix a badly broken system.”
The White House tweeted a graphic Thursday meant to illustrate this point, saying, “Nearly 90% of the benefits of the Biden Administration’s student loan debt relief will go to borrowers earning less than $75,000.”
“Meanwhile, 85% of the benefits of Congressional Republicans’ tax cut went to taxpayers earning more than $75,000.”
Nearly 90% of the benefits of the Biden Administration’s student loan debt relief will go to borrowers earning less than $75,000.
Meanwhile, 85% of the benefits of Congressional Republicans’ tax cut went to taxpayers earning more than $75,000. pic.twitter.com/m1flv6Yy04
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 24, 2022
The comparison failed to acknowledge that taxing people at a lower rate allows them to keep more of the money they earned, while debt cancellation involves not requiring people to pay money they borrowed to obtain an education degree. Instead, other taxpayers foot the bill.
Further, it should be noted that according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, the top 25 percent of income earners (making about $88,000 or more per year) paid approximately 87 percent of all federal income taxes in 2019.
Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent (earning $44,000 or less) paid just 3.5 percent of the total income tax revenue received.
So those with higher incomes pay a far higher total to begin with, meaning any tax cut will benefit them more in total dollars.
Many have said Biden’s college loan debt cancellation will be inflationary.
Former Clinton administration Treasury Secretary Larry Summers warned in a series of tweets on Monday about this problem.
Student loan debt relief is spending that raises demand and increases inflation. It consumes resources that could be better used helping those who did not, for whatever reason, have the chance to attend college. It will also tend to be inflationary by raising tuitions.
— Lawrence H. Summers (@LHSummers) August 22, 2022
“Student loan debt relief is spending that raises demand and increases inflation. It consumes resources that could be better used helping those who did not, for whatever reason, have the chance to attend college. It will also tend to be inflationary by raising tuitions,” Summers said.