“We did the right thing,” one Iowa voter said. “And we get screwed.”
A tense exchange in the selfie line after one of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren‘s recent Iowa town halls is picking up traction, as one voter confronted the 2020 presidential candidate, saying her plan to forgive student loan debt would “screw” hard-working people.
The man said her plan to cancel student loan debt would also target those who paid their own college tuition or who had already paid off their debt.
“I just want to ask one question,” the man said, approaching Warren in Grimes, Iowa this week. “My daughter is getting out of school. I’ve saved all my money. She doesn’t have any student loans.”
“Am I going to get my money back?” he asked.
Warren responded, “Of course not.”
The moment has been shared and re-shared on Twitter from multiple sources, notably including a self-described Make America Great Again account where it has been retweeted 18,000 times, liked 44,900 times and has over two million views.
“So you’re going to pay for people who didn’t save any money and those of us who did the right thing get screwed?” the man asked.
Warren denied that those who work hard will get “screwed,” but the man disagreed, growing heated.
“Of course we do,” he said, adding “we did the right thing, and we get screwed,” before striding off.
Student loan forgiveness has been a thorny issue for Warren and fellow progressive contenders like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Warren’s plan calls for eliminating student loan debt of up to $50,000 for households making under $100,000 annually, which would apply to around 95% of borrowers and wipe out debt entirely for 75% of borrowers. She said she would finance it through her wealth tax.
Sanders’ plan pledges to eliminate all of the $1.6 trillion of student loan debt in the U.S. held by 45 million Americans; the plan would include all private and graduate school loan debt and would apply to all persons regardless of income. The cost, he said, would be paid for by taxing Wall Street speculation.
Critics question the feasibility of such sweeping plans, which spark big cheers among campaign rally crowds of students, or former students — but the plans also raise long-brewing questions about the price tag of higher education and who should pay for it.
Some voters also take issue with whether perceived bailouts are the answer and if it would even address the root cause of the national student debt crisis.
Asked about the moment in Grimes on “CBS This Morning” on Friday, Warren responded outlining her plans to cancel debt.
“Look, we build a future going forward by making it better,” she said, pointing to her own modest upbringing. “By that same logic what would we have done? Not start social security because we didn’t start it last month for you?”
When asked if she’s saying “tough luck” to hard workers, Warren said “no.”
“I was able to go to college and become a public school teacher because America had invested in a $50 a semester opening for me. Today that’s not available. And our kids have taken on a trillion and a half dollars in student loan debt,” she said, “We have got to back that up.”
She added, “We build America by saying we’ll open up opportunities for kids to get an education without getting crushed by student loan debt.”