Ohio’s Ryan pulls back from Biden, votes on student debt relief

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — When Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan spoke out against President Joe Biden’s student loan relief plan this week, it marked a departure from both his past statements on the issue and some of his votes. .

The decision to oppose a president of the same party comes as Ryan tries to lend his hometown credentials in Ohio’s hard-working Mahoning Valley to the support he needs from Republicans and independents to defeat Republican J.

Ryan on Wednesday joined Republicans and a handful of fellow Democrats in criticizing the president’s executive order to write off federal student debt for some borrowers as unnecessary for some people and unfair to others. The plan forgives $10,000 in federal student loans for those with incomes below $125,000 a year or for households earning less than $250,000 and cancels an additional $10,000 for those who received federal Pell grants to attend college.

“As someone who pays off my family’s student loans, I know the cost of higher education is very high,” Ryan said in a statement released by his campaign. “And while there’s no question that a college education should be about opening up opportunities, giving up debt for those already on a path to financial security sends the wrong message to the millions of Ohioans without a degree who are working just as hard to make it through.”

Instead of forgiving loans “for six-figure earners,” Ryan said, the administration should pursue more broadly beneficial policies, including an across-the-board tax cut for working and middle-class families, medical debt relief and targeted forgiveness for essential workers . For student borrowers, he said he supports additional loan refinancing opportunities, apprenticeship investments and Catholic community college and workforce development and training “so all Americans — not just graduates — have a chance to succeed.”

But just a few years ago, Ryan was outspoken in favor of reducing the debt he had accumulated during college.

“Student debt is out of control,” he tweeted in October 2018. “If we can bail out the banks that did everything wrong, we can help the students that did everything right.”

Earlier that year, Ryan called on Congress to “do more to help reduce this debt and make college more affordable,” lamenting that “44 million Americans owe a combined $1.5 trillion in student debt. This prevents them from investing in their communities, our economy and their future.”

And Ryan supported those positions with votes.

He voted yes on the HEROES Act in May 2020, which included plans to cancel up to $10,000 in student loan debt for about 20 million “financially needy” borrowers. That July, Ryan also sponsored an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have required the federal government to provide $10,000 in immediate assistance to approximately 4.5 million private student loan holders.

Ryan campaign spokesman Izzy Levy said his position on the Biden loan forgiveness plan is not about face.

“Tim believes that using executive action to wipe out the debt of six-figure earners goes too far without really addressing the rising costs of higher education that have caused this crisis,” he said in a statement. “Meanwhile, inflation remains high for all Ohioans, regardless of educational attainment. Tim supports more targeted aid, as well as a number of proposals to limit the initial cost of education, and believes the administration would have been better served with prioritized financial relief that benefits all working- and middle-class Ohioans, whether they attended college or not.”

Donald Trump-backed Vance, an author and venture capitalist, is also reaching across Democratic and independent voters in a contest aimed at testing the onetime bellwether’s recent stance to the right.

Vance called Biden’s plan a “$300 billion handout to college graduates — paid for by single mothers in the form of higher food prices, by trade workers in the form of higher taxes, and by the next generation of students in the form of higher tuition. .”

He also noted that some loan forgiveness recipients under Biden’s plan have “six-figure incomes.” He said forcing universities like Harvard and Yale to liquidate their multibillion-dollar endowments would be a better way to reduce student debt without “neutralizing inflation.” Vance graduated from Yale Law School.

“Instead of holding administrators responsible for skyrocketing tuition, bloated bureaucratic budgets and growing armies of ‘diversity’ consultants, Joe Biden has decided to bail out the group of people least in need – six-figure earners and couples making nearly a quarter of a million dollars annually,” his statement said.

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