White House Snaps Back at Twitter Critics of Student Loan Relief

The official White House Twitter account, @The White HouseNormally traffic in sobering infographics and excerpts from government speeches is moderate, but on Thursday night it turned aggressive.

In six tweets, the White House account cited a Republican representative’s criticism of President Biden’s student loan plan and responded to the amount of money congressional members had accepted for the loans. pardon as part of the Paycheck Protection Program, to help businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s a simple recipe, and a page was used all over social media at the time, but with the source, the tone became unusually clear. The approach has its fans on Twitter: “This is the best White House trolling ever!” one person wrote.

“We have never hesitated to call hypocrisy, and we will not stop now,” Alexandra LaManna, a White House spokeswoman, said when asked about Friday’s tweets. “It is important to make it clear that many are calling for student debt relief – which will help the middle class and working families by giving them more breathing space – a bailout for the wealthy has no problem with loan bailouts that benefit their own companies, and no problem with tax cuts for companies and the wealthy. “

The White House is not the first to highlight the government debt forgiveness received by critics of student loan forgiveness. At moment later The plan has been announced On Wednesday, individuals and activists found the critics’ lending information on a public database and shared it online.

A specific image was widely shared and listed six Republicans that the White House has identified and seven other members of Congress who are believed to have been given a PPP loan waiver of $38,000 to $4.3 million. .

The comparison between the two loans is not quite equivalent. PPP loans are effectively designed to be forgiven. The federal government offers them without the traditional standard of reviewing business loans in an effort to distribute money quickly to struggling businesses in the early years of the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly every company with 500 or fewer workers was eligible for low-interest loans, which were forgiven as long as the amount paid was up to cost.

Matt Coleman, a spokesman for the US Small Business Administration, said the agency could not comment on White House tweets. “A long-standing agency policy in many previous administrations was not to comment on individual borrowers,” he said.

The amount of money that the representative businesses receive through this program is also much higher than any amount a person would receive from the student loan forgiveness program, which will cancel up to $20,000 in loan debt to people below certain income limits.

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Independent analysis shows that people who qualify for college loan debt relief are disproportionately young and Black. The Department of Education estimates that nearly 90 percent of affected borrowers earn $75,000 a year or less.

Some in social media and politics speculate that this silly new tone for the @WhiteHouse account is the work of the strategist. Megan Coynewho until recently ran abnormal chaos New Jersey government Twitter account under Governor Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat. Coyne announced on August 1 that she will be joining the Biden administration’s Office of Digital Strategy as deputy platform director.

But the White House would not say to what extent Ms Coyne was involved with the message, and she was not available for comment. tweet a smiley emoji Above a screenshot shows that replies to critics are a top trending on Twitter.

The approach itself has clearly been fully acquired by the Biden administration. When asked about Friday’s tweets, Bharat Ramamurti, deputy director of Mr Biden’s National Economic Council, told reporters at a White House news conference that “we absolutely think it’s that” a fair comparison” between PPP and student debt.

“Our point is, why is there a double standard here?” Mr. Ramamurti said. “From a Republican point of view, why would it be great to forgive a loan of up to $10 million to a business owner, but if we want to offer a $10,000 or $20,000 loan to a teacher? officer, bus driver or a nurse, all of a sudden it’s socialism? “

These nuances aside, the Biden White House’s use of the meme has brought a somewhat sleepy account into the center of the social media debate about the student loan scheme.

One of its tweets, which states that Representative Markwayne Mullin, Republican of Oklahoma, has more than $1.4 million in forgivable PPP loans, which have been shared more than 44,000 times. A tweet from the White House from a day beforeincluding a video clip of Mr. Biden announcing the student loan scheme, has been shared just over 1,000 times.

“Another ignorant attack from a career politician who has never created a single job,” Representative Mullin answered. “74 days before midterms, Joe Biden is targeting business owners for protecting their employees from government sanctions. President Trump has always been supportive of American workers and job creators.”

The change in tone coincided with even more aggressive language from Mr Biden, who during a campaign speech on Thursday night condemns “radical MAGA Republicans.”

But by Friday morning, the White House account was back in its usual tone, posting an infographic with student loan data. It was shared more than 2,100 times as of Friday afternoon.

Stacy Cowley and Jim Tankersley contribution report.

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