Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum was hosting White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein when the two got into a spat over the Biden administration’s handling of student loan forgiveness.
It began when MacCallum asked Bernstein who is paying for the $20,000 in student loan forgiveness for recipients of the Pell Grant and $10,000 of forgiveness for borrowers making less than $125,000 per year, citing a University of Pennsylvania Wharton model that predicted student loan forgiveness will cost over $1 trillion. Bernstein argued that the cost will be closer to $24 billion.
MacCallum posited a hypothetical where she had $15,000 in credit card debt and she is handed $5,000. She would then have $10,000 in debt and no extra money to spend. The economic adviser argued the policy will be paid for by the price of the budget deficit being reduced at a significant amount more than the cost of student loan debt.
“So how is that something I can use to pay for furniture for my house? I can’t, that’s not money I have now,” she said.
“The way to think about this is that the government is taking in way more in both receipts and spending way less than we have been in prior years,” Bernstein said.
MacCallum argued the U.S. continues to have a huge deficit and is spending more than the nation has. The economic adviser said the deficit is being reduced more than the cost of student loan relief.
“The question on that table, I think you’re making this way too confusing,” he said, prompting MacCallum to disagree, saying, “I don’t think so.”
“Okay, well, hold on, and let me suggest how you’re doing so,” Bernstein interjected. “The question on the table is is it accurate to say that we are reducing the deficit more than the cost of student loan forgiveness and the answer is unquestionably yes, okay? I hope that’s pretty straight forward.”
“Well you say people can look at money by numbers in a lot of different ways and the Penn Wharton model says it’s gonna cost $1 trillion. So it’s simply not true,” MacCallum rebutted.
“Hold on, hold on, I’m not going to let you do the thing where you recast what I said totally differently,” he said. “What I’m saying is very straightforward. We are reducing the budget deficit both in this year and last year far more, multiples more than the cost of student loan debt forgiveness. Very simple, very straightforward fact, so I just want to be sure that’s on the table.”