Iowa Republicans Start Insulting Workers As They Try To Block Loan Forgiveness

Since President Joe Biden announced his plan to relieve college graduates from a portion of their crushing student loan debts, Republicans have gone all-in on criticizing the idea of relief. And that’s also meant indirectly—and sometimes directly—criticizing the people benefitting from the program.

Most of the time, Republican attacks suggest people getting loan forgiveness aren’t hard workers, or that they don’t contribute to society. 

Gov. Kim Reynolds has drawn widespread criticism for her tweet, more than a month after the forgiveness was announced:

Rep. Ashley Hinson, a Republican who represents Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, particularly likes to talk about loan forgiveness being an insult to farmers, truckers, plumbers, and/or electricians. 

On the day the policy was announced, she tweeted this statement:

“President Biden’s plan to ‘cancel’ student loan debt is a handout to the wealthy and a total slap in the face to working Americans. Those who didn’t go to college, or those who have worked hard to pay off their student loans, should not be on the hook for someone else’s degree.”

The wealthy aren’t getting the benefit, though.

Only people who make less than $125,000 a year—or households making less than $250,000 a year—are eligible. And only eligible to have $10,000 of their debt forgiven. Pell Grant recipients can get $20,000 forgiven. 

Pell Grants are awarded to undergraduates who demonstrate “exceptional financial need,” as demonstrated by the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form. 

And the people with student debt—which includes farmers, doctors, small business owners, teachers, and many more—are working Americans. Even people who majored in gender studies or English have jobs and pay taxes.

And people following her Twitter took issue with how she framed the issue.

Still, Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a statement, “At a time of skyrocketing inflation, declining wages, and a national recession, Washington has again turned its back on hardworking Americans in Iowa and across this country.”

But a lot of Iowa workers will benefit from this program. Nearly 95% of Iowans with student loans are eligible for some forgiveness. And data show Iowa residents own about $13.2 billion of student loan debt, with the average cost being $30,848. 

Still, Reynolds joined a lawsuit on Iowa’s behalf to sue the Biden administration for overstepping its executive powers. Five other states are part of the lawsuit.

Sen. Chuck Grassley has had similar complaints, though.

He tweeted: “Ppl making up to $125,000 or a couple making up to $250,000 are getting student loans paid for by everyone else who didn’t go to college or paid their own loans. Will fuel further inflation hurting those who can least afford it UNFAIR.”

However, most experts recognize student loan debt is an economic burden

Graduates face pressure to take low-paying jobs so they can start paying the debt, and the accumulated interest. It delays people from buying houses or starting families, makes saving money harder, and lowers credit scores. All of which affect the US economy.

The age group of Americans with the most debt is 35-49, with $622 billion. Just behind them is the 25-34 group with $500 billion. But there are still hundreds of billions owed by people in their 50s, and even past retirement age.

Silence On Other Federal Loans

Most notable is how none of these politicians have flinched at the millions of dollars farms have received in subsidies. Records show Grassley and his family have collected more than $1.75 million in federal farm subsidies in the last 20 years.

Grassley’s son, Robin, has collected $1.3 million, the majority of which came from “commodity subsidies” which are paid when crop prices drop below the level set by Congress in the free market. Congress then covers the difference.

Grassley himself has collected $430,603 in subsidies, $364,031 of which were commodity subsidies. And Grassley’s grandson, Pat Grassley, who is also Speaker of the Iowa House, has received $34,791 in subsidies, including $30,312 in commodity subsidies.

As for Hinson, she’s been quiet about the forgiveness of the $143,000 her husband’s company received after it applied for and obtained a PPP loan during the height of the pandemic. Hinson said he no longer co-owns the company, but he is still listed as a partner.

Grassley also voted for the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which has proved to have mostly benefited wealthy Americans while leaving middle- and low-income Americans behind. 

None of Iowa’s current House representatives were in Congress at the time, but only 13 Republicans voted against it in the House and none were from Iowa.

For most people, student loans are necessary if they want to go to college. Trade schools and apprenticeships don’t apply to every career field, so college degrees are still required for many.

And since states have cut funding for higher education, tuition rates have skyrocketed. 

For context, when Grassley was elected in 1980, the undergraduate tuition at the University of Iowa for in-state students was $415 for 12 or more credit hours (the typical semester). For out-of-state students, it was $945.

For the 2022-23 school year, tuition and fees for in-state students is $10,353 and $32,316, not counting other costs like housing and meals which adds about $16,500 more for both in-state and out-of-state students.

Forgiving a chunk of student loan debts won’t fix the problem behind the debt, but it will give hard-working Americans a leg up.  

 

Nikoel Hytrek
10/11/22

Have a story idea or something I should know? Email me at nikoel@iowastartingline.com. You can also DM me on Twitter at @n_hytrek

Iowa Starting Line is part of an independent news network and focuses on how state and national decisions impact Iowans’ daily lives. We rely on your financial support to keep our stories free for all to read. You can contribute to us here. Also follow us on Facebook and Twitter

1 Comment on "Iowa Republicans Start Insulting Workers As They Try To Block Loan Forgiveness"

  • Secion Header: “Silence On Other Federal Loans”
    BIG silence on those other loans. But those who were college students apparently, are “elites”, and therefore easy to attack.
    Well-put together article!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

*

*