Val Demings, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Florida, is praising President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive student loan debt, backing the Democratic leader’s action even as some in her party, including a few fellow Senate candidates, criticize certain provisions of it.
The congresswoman did, however, call the president’s move a “Band-Aid,” saying in a statement issued late Wednesday through a spokesman that more still needed to be done to reduce the cost of higher education.
Biden’s plan would have the federal government forgive student loan debt up to $10,000 — or $20,000 for those who received Pell Grants — for people making up to $125,000 a year. The move was hailed by the administration as necessary relief for middle-class men and women saddled with huge amounts of debt, although critics warned it was a giveaway to the affluent that would increase already rising inflation.
Demings faces Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in November. Rubio opposes Biden’s student loan plan.
Demings, a congresswoman from Orlando, backed the plan unequivocally, although she said the federal government still needed to do more to lower the cost of higher education.
“I’m the daughter of a maid and janitor and worked my way through college, and you should be able to do the same thing today,” Demings said in a statement sent to the Miami Herald shortly before midnight Wednesday. “Education is the ladder to the American Dream. Today’s relief is targeted to the middle class, has new reforms to make it easier to work off loans, and will expand opportunity for everyone.”
But the congresswoman added that the federal government “can’t keep putting band aids on this problem.”
“The bottom line is that we need to bring down the outrageous cost of college, and you should be able to have a great career and a great life in America whether you go to college or not,“ she said.
Biden’s plan has largely been embraced by the Democratic Party, which has made some form of student-loan forgiveness one of its policy priorities in recent years.
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But at least two other Democratic Senate candidates, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Tim Ryan of Ohio, expressed concern Wednesday about the president’s action.
Bennet, a two-term incumbent senator from Colorado, said he thought that the plan should have been “further targeted” and that the president should have devised a way to pay for it. Ryan, a congressman from Ohio running for the open Senate seat there, said he thought the president should have backed a middle-class tax cut instead of the student-loan forgiveness plan.
This story was originally published August 25, 2022 10:55 AM.