The Republican lawmaker – who infamously abandoned his state in the middle of a deadly winter storm to go on vacation to Cancun – fumed about the president’s student-loan forgiveness plan on his Verdict with Ted Cruz podcast this week.
In his rant, he branded the millions of Americans set to benefit from some relief from student loan repayments “slackers” and suggested that if they “get off the bong for a minute” they could become Democrat voters.
“There is a real risk that if you are that slacker barista who wasted seven years in college studying completely useless things, now has loans and can’t get a job, Joe Biden just gave you 20 grand,” he said.
“Like, holy cow! 20 grand. You know, maybe you weren’t gonna vote in November, and suddenly you just got 20 grand.”
Mr Cruz voiced his concerns that the plan to reduce debt for millions of Americans could pose “a real risk” to Republicans in the November mid-terms.
“And you know, if you can get off the bong for a minute and head down to the voting station,” he said.
“Or just send in your mail-in ballot that the Democrats have helpfully sent you, it could drive up turnout, particularly among young people.”
Mr Cruz was quickly schooled by Democrats and social media users on the issue of student loan debt.
Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders posted a video on Twitter where nurses spoke out about the crippling debt that they face from the education they needed in order to enter the profession.
“Senator Cruz, let me introduce to you a group of nurses and working class Americans who, in many cases, are working two jobs and over 40 hours a week just to pay off their student debt and pay for the basic necessities of life,” he tweeted.
“No, they are not slackers. They deserve relief.”
In the video, one nurse revealed that 120 nurses in her union had a combined student loan debt of $7m.
“You have to have a college degree to be a nurse and we’re struggling in the hospital, we need more nurses,” she said.
Another worker is seen telling the senator that she is paying $1,100 in student loan repayments every month and so is forced to work two jobs to make ends meet.
“That’s going to be my future for a while,” she said.
Others also condemned Mr Cruz for his comments, with former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner unfavourably comparing Mr Cruz’s work ethic to that of the baristas he slammed.
“Baristas work harder in a single shift than Ted Cruz has ever worked in his life,” she tweeted.
Brandon Friedman, who worked as former deputy assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development under Barack Obama, also tweeted: “Since Ted Cruz knows baristas have been spitting in his coffee for years, it’s technically not punching down.”
Earlier this week, the Biden administration announced a new student-loan forgiveness plan which will cancel thousands of dollars of debt for millions of Americans.
Under the plan, up to $20,000 of debt will be cancelled for borrowers who earn less than $125,000 per year and who received Pell Grants – education grants for students from low- and middle-income families.
Borrowers who make less than $125,000 per year but did not receive a Pell Grant can have up to $10,000 of their loans forgiven.
While Democrats have welcomed the move – with progressives saying it needs to go further still – Republicans instantly blasted the move, claiming that other taxpayers without debt or a college education would lose out.
But the hypocrisy of some of those complaining was exposed when the White House fired off a series of tweets pointing out that they had personally benefited from loan forgiveness of their own during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Several Republican lawmakers including Reps Marjorie Taylor Greene, Mike Kelly and Markwayne Mullin were exposed as having had six- and seven-figure Payment Protection Program (PPP) loans forgiven.
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