Staffers Social Media Post Creates Debate

A House Democratic staff member faced significant backlash after thanking President Biden for the cancellation of his student loan debt on Wednesday.

Ben Kamens, communications director for Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur, shared the news on his social media account, stating, "Just got a call to let me know my student debt has been canceled. This is why elections matter. Thanks @JoeBiden," accompanied by a photo of his cancellation notice.

The notice, from Nelnet, indicated that Kamens' federal student loan of $8,250, initially disbursed in 2010, had been forgiven in full under the Biden-Harris Administration. According to data from LegiStorm, Kamens earned just over $80,000 in 2023, while the median household income in Rep. Kaptur's 9th Congressional District in northern Ohio is $62,077, based on census data.

Despite Kamens' gratitude, Rep. Kaptur had previously voiced opposition to Biden's student loan forgiveness plan back in 2022. She raised concerns about fairness, asking, "What about the people who paid off their loans? What about the people who didn’t rack up that level of debt? What about people who put college on hold?" She also criticized systemic issues within the student loan program and the President's decision to bypass Congress, stating, "The last time I checked the Constitution, you can’t impact the bottom line of the federal treasury without some bill moving through Congress."

Kamens' post quickly went viral, attracting criticism for the notion of using public funds to pay off the debt of a congressional staffer. Former Virginia Rep. Scott Taylor tweeted, "Your tax $ were already paying this DC Staffer’s student loans off for him while he works on Capitol Hill. Now, you paid them off completely, whether he works or not."

Others echoed similar sentiments. Steve Guest, a former aide to Ted Cruz, remarked, "Joe Biden is robbing from hardworking plumbers, electricians, and mechanics to pay off the student loans from congressional staffers ahead of schedule. This reflects so poorly on the Dems." Journalist Doug Powers highlighted the disconnect between public employees benefiting from debt relief and the taxpayers who fund it, writing, "My son who works 12 hours a day installing metal roofs will be impressed with how his tax dollars are being spent."

National Review contributors also weighed in. Charles C. W. Cooke criticized Kamens for failing to pay off $8,250 in fourteen years, and Dominic Pino sarcastically noted that elections should not be about voters expecting financial handouts. Actor Dean Cain added his voice to the criticism, stating, "You're thanking @JoeBiden??? Is HE the one who paid off the loan you VOLUNTARILY took? You should be thanking the American taxpayer -- especially those didn’t or couldn’t afford to go to college."

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