• October 6, 2022

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Bill Maher says that student loan forgiveness is a “loser issue.”

Here’s what you need to know.

Student Loans

Maher, a comedian and political commentator who hosts Real Time With Bill Maher on HBO, criticized wide-scale student loan forgiveness on his show Friday. According to Maher, wide-scale student loan cancellation is a loser issue for several reasons, including:

  • Only 13% of Americans have federal student loan debt;
  • 65% of Americans didn’t attend college; and
  • 50% of college debt is for people who went to graduate school, which is associated with higher income than college or high school.

“It just looks like a loser issue for the party that is trying to win back the working class…We who didn’t go to college and didn’t benefit from that are gonna subsidize you to get your degree in gender studies and sports marketing…,” Maher said. “I think it’s a loser issue.”


Student loan forgiveness: a divisive issue

Paul Begala, a guest on Maher’s show and President Bill Clinton’s political strategist during the 1992 presidential campaign, agreed. “We Democrats have a lab — two labs actually, secret labs — one in Berkeley and one in Brooklyn, where we come up with ideas to completely piss off the working class, and it’s working wonderfully.” Rather than immediate student loan cancellation, Begala proposed student loan forgiveness in exchange for public service. While Begala didn’t reference the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, he referenced two years of public service in exchange for some student loan forgiveness. “[What] I’d much rather see Democrats do is go back to their roots, which is earn it,” Begala said. “Why don’t we have a system where we say, ‘You want to get out of your college debt? Serve your country — Marine Corps, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps.’ Not everybody can carry a rifle, but you can mentor a kid, and you should give two years of service.” (5 reasons why Biden won’t cancel student loans).

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Student loan relief: reasons to cancel student loans

Despite Maher’s and Begala’s comments, progressives in Congress are championing an effort for wide-scale student loan forgiveness. (5 ways for Biden to cancel student loans). For example, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) says that wide-scale student loan cancellation will stimulate the economy, reduce disparities, and help borrowers get married, start a family, buy a home and save for retirement. President Joe Biden, who has canceled $17 billion of student loans, has supported $10,000 of student loan cancellation. However, Biden has called on Congress, not the president, to cancel student debt. Biden also confirmed that he won’t cancel $50,000 of student loans. After pressure from progressive Democrats, Biden now says he is considering executive action on wide-scale student loan forgiveness and could decide within weeks. If Biden cancels student loans, it would be a large victory for student loan borrowers. That said, student loan forgiveness could be limited if Biden imposes an income theshold or restricts student loan relief to college student loans, for example. (Here’s who could qualify for student loan cancellation). Another major issue will be whether temporary student loan relief ends on August 31, 2022. It’s possible that student loan forgiveness could mean the end of student loan relief. If that happens, student loan borrowers will need to prepare to restart student loan payments beginning September 1. Here are some ways that you can prepare for student loan repayment starting now:


Student Loans: Related Reading

Biden confirms he won’t cancel $50,000 of student loans—5 key takeaways

3 ways Biden could cancel student loans

Student loan forgiveness: who could qualify under Biden’s plan

Student loan forgiveness: 5 key takeaways from major announcement

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