Guest Post: Loan Forgiveness For Me, Not For Thee

President Joe Biden speaks about student loan debt forgiveness in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022, in Washington. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona listens at right. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

On June 30, the Supreme Court struck down President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive student loan debt. The forgiveness plan would have canceled up to $20,000 of student loan debt for borrowers making less than $125,000 a year, impacting nearly 38.6 million borrowers.

The federal student debt balance has risen to over $1.6 trillion, with the typical borrower owing $20,000-$25,000 in loans. On average, women carry more student debt than men; Black borrowers have higher student debt levels than borrowers of other races; and people who attended for-profit colleges have higher student debt levels than those who attended public and nonprofit schools.

Reaction to the SCOTUS decision has been as one could predict.

While Republicans celebrate, Democrats criticize the decision. While Senator Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized the decision, Republican presidential candidate Tim Scott has been campaigning on the issue with the catch phrase, “If you take out a loan, you pay it back.”

US House Rep. Ralph Norman (R-South Carolina) tweeted, “You borrowed the money. You received the education. You benefited personally. It is not someone else’s responsibility to pay back what YOU OWE!”

But legislators like Norman and others also borrowed money, also benefited personally, and also allowed taxpayers to pay it back. Only it wasn’t student loan debt; it was the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

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PPP also was an attractive target for fraud, with as much as $80 billion stolen, according to some estimates.

Rep. Norman himself had $306,520 in PPP loans forgiven. And he is not the only congressperson or wealthy person to have PPP loans forgiven:

  • Tom Brady: $960,855
  • Reese Witherspoon: $1,694,694
  • Jared Kushner: $5,884,148
  • Paul Pelosi: $1,708,100
  • Khloe Kardashian: $1,245,405
  • Green Day: $636,267
  • Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida): $476,000
  • Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Florida): $2.8 million
  • Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Oklahoma): $1.07 million
  • Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas): $1.43 million
  • Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Kentucky): $4.3 million
  • Rep. Carol Miller (R-West Virginia): $3.1 million
  • Nancy Bass Wyden (wife of Sen. Ron Wyden [D-Oregon]): $2.7 million

Unlike PPP forgiveness, Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan would eliminate an estimated $300 billion in debt, the majority of which will reportedly help those earning $75,000 or less annually.

The silence from the opposition of the loan forgiveness—elites, legislators, and insiders given a pass on repaying their own PPP loans—is deafening.

While college graduates are smothered by debt by a loan sharking financial system while the wealthy are lining their pockets and gaming the system, the message is truly clear: Forgiveness for me but not for thee.

Patrick O’Donnell is a resident of Sioux Center and spent 37 years serving in Iowa public schools as a teacher, principal, and superintendent. He may be reached at

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