White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre repeatedly dodged a simple question on Wednesday about President Joe Biden’s student loan debt forgiveness plan.
The White House press briefing was the first one held in more than two weeks.
When it was Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy’s turn to ask a question, he chose the obvious, “How can the country afford such a massive handout?”
What followed was a lengthy exchange in which Jean-Pierre claimed the Biden administration has brought down the budget deficit by $1.7 trillion, suggesting those purported savings are what will pay for student loan debt forgiveness.
But after she attacked Republicans for passing tax cuts during the Trump administration, Doocy was forced to ask the same question six times because Jean-Pierre repeatedly dodged his line of inquiry.
“Who is paying for this?” Doocy asked.
At first, Jean-Pierre cited the alleged $1.7 trillion in deficit reduction. But Doocy quickly pointed out that “forgiving” student loan debt does not make it disappear. So he asked again, “Who is paying for this?”
08/24/22: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre
Next, Jean-Pierre tried to claim that lifting the moratorium on student loan payments will help pay for the cost of Biden’s plan. But by her own admission, the revenue generated from payments pales in comparison to the estimated cost of the plan.
“But somebody is paying for it. Who?” Doocy asked again. “Is it wealthy Americans? Is it corporations? Who is paying?”
Jean-Pierre, however, never really answered the question. Instead, she claimed Biden’s COVID-19 stimulus bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, and “all of this work that this president has done” has produced $1.7 trillion in deficit reduction.
The press secretary then abruptly moved on to the next reporter.
Has Biden really lowered the deficit by $1.7 trillion?
The talking point sounds great. But it’s not true.
What is true is the deficit has been reduced by about $1.7 trillion between 2021 and 2022 — but not because of Biden.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, government revenues dried up as businesses shut down. The significant reduction in tax revenues combined with the trillions of dollars in pandemic relief caused the national deficit to quickly balloon.
This means the deficit was always going to decrease because pandemic-related spending has waned.
The Congressional Budget Office explains:
CBO projects that the federal budget deficit will shrink to $1.0 trillion in 2022 (it was $2.8 trillion last year) and that the annual shortfall would average $1.6 trillion from 2023 to 2032. The deficit continues to decrease as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) next year as spending related to the coronavirus pandemic wanes, but then deficits increase, reaching 6.1 percent of GDP in 2032.
As the CBO explained, a budget deficit of about $1 trillion still exists. Biden is therefore not saving Americans any money.
So the question remains: Who is going to pay for student loan debt forgiveness?