President Joe Biden, along with several other high-profile Democrats, had received tens of millions of dollars from groups and individuals in the higher education sector over previous campaign cycles before the president recently announced his student loan forgiveness program.
The president was the top recipient by a substantial margin, receiving more than $64.5 million in contributions from individuals in the higher education sector during his 2020 presidential campaign, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets. Democrats have received 70% of all political donations from individuals and groups in the education industry since 2002.
The top 20 beneficiaries of contributions from the higher education sector were all Democrats, except for former President Trump, who received $8.8 million, placing him at number five on the list according to data. Joe Biden topped the list, followed by Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in second place with $17.2 million and Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Ma. in third with $11.6 million.
In the 2022 midterm election cycle, Democrats continue to dominate, with Senator Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., at the top of the list with $2.2 million. No Republican candidate is in the top 20 higher education donation recipients.
In the current election cycle, donations from parties associated with the University of California system top the list of who contributed the most. Contributions amount to more than $4.4 million given to parties, candidates, and outside spending groups. Of the $4.4 million, 96.3% went to Democrats, with just 2.4% to Republicans. Of the top 20 contributing institutions during the 2022 campaign cycle, Democrats never received less than 80.1% of the contributions.
Decision met with sharp criticism
After the announcement, some members of both parties criticized the president’s move, arguing it doesn’t make college education more affordable and doesn’t do enough to prevent future borrowers from racking up similar debt levels.
Democrat Representative Chris Pappas of New Hampshire rebuked Biden over the plan, arguing that the move did nothing to address the affordability problem regarding attending a university or college. He stressed that the action should have been taken on the legislative level, not the executive.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed his disapproval in a statement that read, “President Biden’s student-loan socialism is a slap in the face to every family who sacrificed to save for college, every graduate who paid their debt, and every American who chose a certain career path or volunteered to serve in our Armed Forces to avoid taking on debt.”
Biden was quick to respond to the criticism. When asked by a reporter if the measure was unfair toward “people who paid their student loans or chose not to take out loans,” he said, “Is it fair to people who, in fact, do not own multibillion-dollar businesses if they see one of these guys getting all the tax breaks? Is that fair? What do you think?”
The president has repeatedly attacked large corporations for paying little to nothing in federal income taxes. “I’m sick and tired of ordinary people being fleeced,” he said of the proposal to raise the corporate tax rate.
According to the White House, the student loan forgiveness program will impact around 43 million borrowers, with 20 million seeing total debt load forgiveness.