Republican Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker sharply criticized on Friday President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive $10,000 of federal student loans (or $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients), calling it “not right” and “not fair.”
“This is not right. Georgia people say it’s not right, and they say it’s unfair,” Walker said, citing conversations with people who, he said, told him they had wanted to go to college but couldn’t afford it and chose instead to enlist in the military or enter the workforce.
“First of all, how can you transfer someone’s debt who owe it to someone that don’t owe it?” Walker asked, adding moments later: “You got to pay that debt, and I didn’t co-sign for anyone’s loan. I hope no one out here co-signed for anyone’s loan because I didn’t co-sign for anyone’s loan, and it’s not right, it’s not fair.”
Walker’s comments came during the first and only debate in this tight Senate race ahead of the Nov. 8 midterms, when the former football star hopes to oust Democrat incumbent Raphael Warnock. The race is considered a toss-up by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, but recent polls show Warnock with a 3.3-point lead, on average.
Several Democratic candidates in tight races have tried to distance themselves from Biden’s student-loan plan, and some have actively criticized the idea. For instance, Rep. Tim Ryan, the party’s Senate nominee in Ohio, argued that it “sends the wrong message to the millions of Ohioans without a degree working just as hard to make ends meet.”
But Warnock took a different approach, saying, “I wouldn’t be standing here tonight if it weren’t for low-interest student loans and Pell grants.”
“And in the years since I graduated, that path has gotten harder,” he continued. “I ran into a couple on a flight, and they wrote a note for me. They were with their 1-year-old son. They said whatever you do, please do something about this student debt. The mother said I borrowed $35,000, I paid back $20,000, I still owe $30,000. And that’s why I pushed the president to do student-debt relief.”
Warnock added that he thinks Biden’s forgiveness plan was “the right move” and “will spur entrepreneurship, homeownership,” noting that the plan includes forgiveness for those who have used federal loans to attend technical and vocational schools, as well.
“But we need reform. We shouldn’t be doing this again 10 years from now,” Warnock continued. “And I’m working right now on the kind of reform we need because college is outpacing the price of everything else in our economy.”
When asked about how he would handle the skyrocketing costs of higher education, Walker said he would work to eliminate federal funding for schools that continue to raise their tuition. “Any college that raises their costs, I’d get rid of any federal funding they’re going to get,” Walker said.
Warnock got the last word in: “It’s interesting to me that the folks who have been crying about the student-debt relief haven’t said anything about multibillionaire corporate entities who’ve gotten PPP loans.”