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McConnell talks federal funding, student loan forgiveness during stop at CVG

McConnell stands at a podium with TV microphones in front of a CVG patterned backdrop
Tana Weingartner
Sen. Mitch McConnell speaks at CVG on Aug. 24, 2022.

Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) returned to the northern portion of his home state for a second time this month, this time to tout federal funding for the state during a visit to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport.

The airport is getting $13.7 million from the federal infrastructure law and another nearly $3.2 million in federal funds via the Airport Improvement Program.

Of course, he pointed out, there's also funding in the infrastructure law for the Brent Spence Bridge companion project.

"I know the governors have already signed an agreement; they're already moving forward rapidly, and to the relief of almost everyone on this side of the river, apparently this will happen without tolls. Who would have ever thought?" adding with a chuckle, "A miracle."

McConnell said he toured Amazon's northern Kentucky facility last week and was set to tour DHL during this visit.

On the president's student loan forgiveness plan

The visit came the same day President Joe Biden announced his plan to cancel some student loan debts. Biden's plan calls for forgiving up to $20,000 of federal student loan debt for Pell Grant recipients, and up to $10,000 for other qualifying borrowers. He also
extended the federal student loan payment pause through Dec. 31.

Asked about his reaction to the announcement, McConnell said he thinks it's a bad idea.

"An awful lot of Americans choose not to go to college, and then there are those Americans who borrowed money to pay for school and paid it back. In what way is it fair to those taxpayers?" he said. "I think, fundamentally, when we borrow money, we ought to pay it back, and I don't think the government ought to be forgiving these student loans."

He dismissed the idea that student loan forgiveness could be compared with small business loan forgiveness.

"I'm perplexed at what the comparison could possibly be. Student loans are loans to people who want to pursue college education who are unable to afford it otherwise, and it's a commitment to the lender to pay the money back. In the case of SBA loans, they end up producing business and jobs and opportunity and they get paid back," he said. "I think it's the fundamental tenet of American life that if you owe money, as challenging as it is, you have an obligation to pay it back."

When asked if forgiving loans doesn't help all Americans to rise and contribute to the economy, he replied, "I'm sure that people who will benefit from it will love it. The question is, is it fair to everyone else?"

According to NPR, "The Department of Education estimates that, among borrowers who are no longer in school, nearly 90% of relief dollars will go to those earning less than $75,000 a year.

"About 43 million borrowers will benefit, and 20 million will have their debt completely canceled, according to a senior administration official. The White House said more than 60% of current federal student loan borrowers also received Pell Grants.

"According to the White House, Parent PLUS loans will also qualify for cancellation under the new policy."

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.