Fox host downplays student debt crisis by dismissing Warren’s plan to cancel debt as “buying votes”

Fox Business’ Stuart Varney attacked Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) proposal to provide debt relief to over 42 million student borrowers and to make public college free, characterizing it as nothing more than a vote buying scheme. But the student debt crisis is a major problem for the U.S. economy, with tens of millions of defaults expected in the next few years.

During the April 23 edition of Fox & Friends, Varney first correctly explained that Warren’s proposal would provide debt relief for about 42 million Americans, wiping out up to $50,000 of debt for most student borrowers, and would make public colleges tuition-free. But he quickly claimed that the proposal is “buying votes with other people’s money” and complained that the plan would be funded by taxing America’s wealthiest millionaires and billionaires. Varney concluded by mocking Warren and her plan: “It’s buying votes. ‘Vote for me, millennials, and look what I can do for you.’”

Varney failed to acknowledge the severity of the student debt problem. As CNBC’s report on Warren’s proposal explained, “By 2023, nearly 40% of borrowers are expected to default on their student loans, an event that only increases their debt and devastates their credit.” And student debt disproportionately harms students of historically Black colleges and universities: According to The Wall Street Journal, students of these schools have 32% higher median debt load than students from other public universities.

Warren wrote that her proposal to forgive student debt and make public college free would “substantially increase wealth for Black and Latinx families and reduce both the Black-White and Latinx-White wealth gaps.” And NPR explained the obvious economic benefits of reducing so much debt: “Federal agencies have calculated in the past that the current $1.5 trillion of outstanding student loans could be impacting consumer spending and demand for mortgages — so canceling many of those loans could indeed goose the economy.”

Varney, who has said he is among the top 1% of income earners, has a long history of dismissing the struggles of Americans who are not rich. In 2011, he said that many poor people “have things. What they lack is the richness of spirit.”

Varney has also attacked many Democratic proposals and policies that would provide relief and an even playing field for lower income families. In April 2018, Varney said that now-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ job guarantee plan was “a vote-buying operation.” In October 2015, Varney said that multiple policy proposals from Democratic presidential candidates, including paid family leave and health care for all children, were just their attempts at “buying votes.” And before that, during the Obama administration, Varney repeatedly characterized the federal government’s efforts to ensure that people who qualified for benefits had access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, as Democratic plots to “buy votes.”