Twenty-two Republican governors have signed a letter sent to President Joe Biden calling on him to withdraw his student loan forgiveness plan.
In the letter, dated Monday, the governors wrote that they "fundamentally oppose (Biden's) plan to force American taxpayers to pay off the student loan debt of an elite few."
The Republicans, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, also claimed that Biden's plan would harm low-income families – writing, "hourly workers will pay off the master’s and doctorate degrees of high salaried lawyers, doctors, and professors. … Simply put, your plan rewards the rich and punishes the poor."
In response, the White House pointed to Republican support of significant tax cuts for the wealthy under President Donald Trump, as well the GOP politicians who benefitted from having their federal Paycheck Protection Program loans forgiven during the COVID-19 health crisis.
"These same Republican governors didn’t seem to object when their Republican colleagues in Congress passed a $2 trillion tax giveaway for the rich or had hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own small business loans forgiven," White House spokesperson Abdullah Hasan wrote in an email sent to USA TODAY Wednesday afternoon.
"While Republican elected officials try to keep working middle-class Americans in mountains of debt, President Biden is committed to delivering relief to the borrowers who need it most," Hasan added.
Voices: Is Biden student loan forgiveness unfair? No, it's a vital first step.
Late last month, Biden fulfilled a key campaign promise by announcing that he would cancel at least $10,000 in student loan debt for millions of federal borrowers, as well as $20,000 to Pell Grant recipients.
While the Monday letter argues that the president's move will reward rich Americans, Biden has stressed that the income-based eligibility of his plan is aimed to help those who need it most, notably middle-class and lower-income families. Borrowers with incomes less than $125,000, or households earning $250,000 or less, are eligible for the $10,000 in forgiveness – and the up to $20,000 in debt relief is for people who have been low-income Pell Grant recipients.
"An education is a ticket to a better life. … But over time, that ticket has become too expensive for too many Americans," Biden said Aug. 25. "The burden is so heavy that even if you graduate, you may not have access to the middle-class life that the college degree once provided."
'Debt and no degree': Biden cancels as much as $20K in student loan debt: Recap
How do I get my student loans forgiven? Qualifying for Biden's debt relief, explained.
Many applauded the president's historic move, expected to aid up to 43 million borrowers. Other activists stressed that more relief is needed. Progressive Democrats, unions and liberal groups have urged Biden to cancel at least $50,000 in student loans.
Biden's announcement also prompted GOP attacks, with many Republicans slamming the president for the potential impact on the economy and pointing to those who paid off their student loans in the past.
Need for more relief: Debt relief will change the lives of some with student loans, but fall short for others.
Gov. DeSantis: Student loan forgiveness alienates 'people who went and did the right thing'
"At a time when inflation is sky high due to your unprecedented tax-and-spend agenda, your plan will encourage more student borrowing, incentivize higher tuition rates, and drive-up inflation even further, negatively impacting every American," the 22 Republican governors said in their Monday letter.
Biden argued in August that the plan was "economically responsible," pointing to "real benefits for families without meaningful effect on inflation."
Goldman Sachs issued an analysis in August with similar findings, noting there wouldn't be much of an impact on inflation in the long run.
"Debt forgiveness that lowers monthly payments is slightly inflationary in isolation, but the resumption of payments is likely to more than offset this," Goldman Sachs analysts said.
In their letter, the Republican governors also said that Biden's loan forgiveness plan is estimated to cost a total of $600 billion and an average of $2,000 per taxpayer.
But these estimates have fluctuated among different experts. After Biden's August announcement, the White House said the plan would cost roughly $240 billion. The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania estimates it will cost between $469 billion and $519 billion.
In a handful of states, borrowers getting relief may also face higher taxes.
More: White House pegs student loan plan's cost at $240 billion. Experts say it will be twice that.
Taxing loan forgiveness? Federal student loan forgiveness could be taxed as income in some states
Here's a list of the 22 Republican governors who signed the letter calling on Biden to withdraw his student loan forgiveness plan:
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey.
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson.
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox.
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon.
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Contributing: Chris Quintana, Maureen Groppe, Ella Lee, USA TODAY.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 22 Republican governors demand Biden withdraw student loan forgiveness
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