Click here to watch the video.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed President Biden’s reckless and costly student loan bailout and noted that the Senate will soon consider a resolution to block the government handout. Earlier this year, Thune introduced legislation that would prevent taxpayers and working families from paying for the cancellation of student loans and the ongoing suspension of federal student loan repayments.
Thune also congratulated Jerry Oster, a pillar of the South Dakota press corps who has served at WNAX in Yankton, South Dakota, for 47 years, on his well-deserved retirement.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, before I begin, I’d like to take a moment to recognize a pillar of the South Dakota press corps who has served at WNAX in Yankton, South Dakota, for an incredible 47 years.
“His name is Jerry Oster, and he truly is an institution on the media landscape in South Dakota.
“Jerry joined WNAX as news director in September of 1976, and he’s become one of the most familiar and beloved voices on the airwaves in South Dakota.
“I’ve had many great conversations with Jerry over the years – on air and off – and I can say for certain that his departure will leave a very big hole in the South Dakota radio scene.
“But he has more than earned his retirement.
“And I know that he will relish getting to spend more time with his wife Cheryl – herself just recently retired after an amazing 43 years with Farm Credit Services of America – and with his sons and their wives and his six grandchildren.
“Jerry, congratulations on an incredible – and award-winning – career.
“And enjoy some well-deserved rest!
“Mr. President, last August, mere days after he had signed a bill that would supposedly reduce the deficit by $238 billion, President Biden announced a student loan giveaway that is set to cost taxpayers nearly a trillion dollars over the next decade.
“In a presidency distinguished by bad economic decisions, this was a particularly notable one.
“There are two main parts to the president’s scheme.
“There’s the outright forgiveness of $10,000 in federal student debt – $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients – which is set to cost American taxpayers somewhere in the neighborhood of half a trillion dollars.
“And then there’s the president’s radical revamp of the income-driven repayment system, which will bring total costs for the president’s plan to somewhere close to a trillion dollars.
“Mr. President, there are a number of obvious problems with the president’s plan for “forgiving” student debt.
“I say forgiving student debt – but it’s more like transferring the cost of student debt, from the relatively small percentage of taxpayers with student debt to American taxpayers as a whole.
“It’s something of a slap in the face to Americans who chose more affordable college options or worked their way through school to avoid taking on student loans – or whose parents scrimped and saved to put them through college.
“It’s also a slap in the face to members of the military who signed up to serve this country and earned GI Bill benefits to help with tuition or training.
“Not to mention that negating this popular benefit could drag down recruitment and retention.
“And, of course, it’s deeply unfair to ask the many Americans who worked hard to pay off their loans – or who never pursued college in the first place – to take on the burden of student debt for individuals who took out loans for college or graduate school – and agreed to pay them back.
“And let’s remember, Mr. President, we’re asking taxpayers at large to foot the bill for student loan cancellation for Americans who enjoy greater long-term earning potential than many of the Americans who will be helping to shoulder the burden for their debts.
“The president’s student loan giveaway isn’t a government handout for the needy.
“It’s a government handout that will disproportionately benefit Americans who are better off.
“It’s ironic coming from someone who claims he wants to build the economy from the bottom up and the middle out.
“The president’s student loan giveaway is decidedly more top-down.
“And speaking of the economy – Americans continue to struggle with the effects of the Democrat-driven inflation crisis that has beset our economy for most of the president’s administration.
“Prices are up 16 percent on average since the president took office.
“And we’re nowhere near getting back to the target inflation rate of 2 percent.
“And what is the president’s student loan plan almost guaranteed to do?
“In the words of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget – where the president’s own treasury secretary served on the board – the president’s student loan giveaway will, quote, ‘meaningfully boost inflation.’
“‘Meaningfully boost inflation.’
“Mr. President, I’ve talked about the forgiveness part of the president’s plan – and how fundamentally unfair it is.
“But that’s only half of the president’s student loan giveaway.
“And the other half is just as problematic.
“Because it sets up a system in which the majority of federal borrowers will never fully repay their loans.
“The Urban Institute, a left-of-center think tank, estimates that just 22 percent of those with bachelor’s degrees enrolled in the president’s new income-driven repayment program would repay their loans in full.
“And many individuals would never be required to repay a penny.
“And who will be footing the bill for all those student loan dollars that aren’t repaid?
“And needless to say, the president’s income-driven repayment plan will not only fail to curtail student borrowing, it will actually encourage it.
“If you can reasonably expect that you won’t have to fully pay back your loans, you’re much more likely to feel free to borrow liberally.
“And, of course, neither the president’s outright student loan forgiveness nor his forgiveness masquerading as income-driven repayment will do anything to address the problem of soaring college costs.
“In fact, the president’s student loan giveaway is likely to make the problem worse.
“You only have to look at what happened when Democrats forced through their $7,500 tax credit for Americans who purchase electric vehicles.
“Car manufacturers raised their prices by a similar amount.
“Similarly, if colleges can expect that the federal government will pick up a sizable part of the tab for their students’ education, they’re extremely unlikely to feel any pressing need to cut costs or stop tuition hikes.
“If anything, colleges might further increase tuition and fees.
“Mr. President, currently the outcome of the ‘forgiveness’ portion of the president’s student loan giveaway is unclear.
“The president’s legal authority for this action is dubious, and his ability to unilaterally forgive student loans has been challenged in the Supreme Court, with a decision expected within weeks.
“And today the Senate looks likely to pass a resolution that would block the forgiveness part of the president’s proposal.
“Unfortunately, the president is guaranteed to veto the measure, and there are not enough Democrats in the House and Senate willing to override his veto.
“Apparently the possibility of garnering votes from Americans with student debt is reason enough for Democrats to ignore the blatantly regressive nature of the president’s student loan giveaway – and the fact that it will almost unquestionably worsen the problem of rising college costs.
“Not to mention the fact that it will drive up inflation and balloon the deficit.
“Mr. President, I haven’t even mentioned the third part of the president’s student loan legacy – the COVID-era student loan repayment pause that President Biden has extended six times during his presidency with no reasonable justification.
“That pause, which has been in place for three years now, costs taxpayers $5 billion a month.
“Fortunately, this pause is guaranteed to end thanks to the Fiscal Responsibility Act – the legislation Speaker McCarthy and President Biden agreed on to raise the debt ceiling.
“But while the end of the pause is a victory for taxpayers, the savings that will result pale in comparison to the tremendous cost of the president’s student loan giveaway.
“And if the Supreme Court doesn’t overturn the forgiveness portion of the president’s student loan giveaway, American taxpayers will be stuck with the full nearly-trillion-dollar bill.
“It will be one more negative economic legacy from Democrats and the Biden administration.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”