GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Republicans in general are not big fans of President Joe Biden’s forgiveness of federal student loan debt, and you can count at least a couple from North Carolina in that group.

Some Democrats, though, don’t agree with them.

Many complain about the fairness this shows for college graduates given that many who didn’t go to college have debt as well, and they argue that taxpayers now will foot the bill for what the GOP says is $300 billion that will not be reimbursed.

Biden announced $10,000 in forgiveness of student debt for taxpayers making less than $125,000 a year ($250,000 if married and filing jointly) and $20,000 for those who received Pell Grants, more of which typically go to people of lower income and people of color.

North Carolinians are carrying more than $49 billion in debt, an average of nearly $38,000 per debtor, one of the highest rates in the country.

Richard Burr’s reaction

Richard Burr (Courtesy of US Congress)
Richard Burr (Courtesy of US Congress)

Richard Burr, the Republican from Winston-Salem who is retiring from the U.S. Senate at the end of the year, was out with a quick statement decrying Biden’s order.

“President Biden’s announcement that he intends to cancel student loan debt is irresponsible, unfair, and deeply cynical,” Burr, the ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said in a statement released by his staff. “He’s asking taxpayers to subsidize debt held by some of America’s highest earners in order to court votes.

“Every American who paid back their student loans, who put themselves through school by saving and working extra jobs, or who chose not to go to college at all should be outraged right now.

“This move will not solve sky-high college tuitions. This will pour fuel on the fire, increasing college prices and accelerating inflation. It will encourage more schools to increase costs and encourage more students to take out loans they cannot pay back in the hopes they’ll never have to do so. The President knows he does not have the legal authority to unilaterally cancel student loan debt, but is ignoring the law and bipartisan opposition in Congress. I urge the Senate to pass the Student Loan Accountability Act, which would make Congress’ intent clear and prevent future sweeping, unilateral loan cancelation from this administration.”

Burr and Thom Tillis, North Carolina’s other senator, and Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) earlier introduced the Student Loan Accountability Act, which would prohibit this action.

Burr also has blasted the Biden administration for repeatedly extending the student loan repayment freeze, which had been a COVID-19-inspired relief.

Ted Budd’s reaction

NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 18: Republican Rep. Ted Budd of North Carolina speaks on the last day of the annual "Road To Majority Policy Conference" held by the Faith & Freedom Coalition at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center June 18, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. Former President Donald Trump's appearance on the first day of the conference came on the heels of the third public hearing by the House committee investigating the attack on our U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Seth Herald/Getty Images)
Republican Rep. Ted Budd (Photo by Seth Herald/Getty Images)

One of the people who want to succeed Burr, 13th District Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance), issued his own statement about Biden’s program.

“The Biden administration’s cancellation of student loans is a wealth transfer from everyday taxpayers who don’t have a college degree to wealthy elites who don’t need a bailout,” Budd said in a statement released by his staff. “This move is an insult to working families and those who responsibly paid off their loans. The Biden administration has yet again taken reckless action that hurts hardworking North Carolinians and makes the inflation crisis worse.”

Cheri Beasley’s reaction

Dory MacMillan, a spokesperson for Budd’s opponent, Democrat Cheri Beasley, said Beasley was focused on broader issues.

“Cheri knows this decision will help many North Carolinians, but also wants to focus on lowering the costs of education, improving transparency, lowering interest rates, and increasing Pell grants for borrowers moving forward,” MacMillan wrote in a statement released by the campaign. “She also believes that we should work to expand access to vocational training and apprenticeship programs so that North Carolinians can access the training they need to get good high-paying jobs here.”

Kathy Manning’s reaction

Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro), who represents the 6th Congressional District and is seeking re-election, advocated for the program.

“President Biden’s announcement today on student loan debt relief lifts an economic burden off those who need it most, which in turn will help them participate more actively in our economy,” Manning said in a statement released by her staff. “I am pleased that this action will help so many people as we recover from the financial impacts of the pandemic. As we celebrate this news, we must remember that forgiving student loan debt does not solve the underlying problem of the high, and often still unattainable cost of college.

“As a member of the Education and Labor Committee, I’ll continue to advocate for policies that make higher education affordable and accessible.”

Thom Tillis’ reaction

Tillis didn’t issue a statement but did post a comment on his Senate Twitter account: “This is a slap in the face to middle and working-class Americans already struggling with high inflation who will now have to pay off the debt of higher earners. And President Biden’s bad decision will make inflation even worse.”

Who hasn’t responded?

No other member of Congress serving the other districts in the Piedmont Triad issued a statement about Biden’s decision. Other than Manning, neither did any candidate for the 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th Congressional Districts, which will represent parts of the area in 2023.