Congress is back: Mitch McConnell, Charles Schumer trade barbs over student debt relief, inflation


The Senate’s top leaders kicked off their first day back from August recess by lobbing criticisms at one another.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer condemned Republicans for “fake outrage” over student loan forgiveness and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Democrats of waging “economic warfare against the middle class.”

The two men’s opening floor speeches offered a preview of the sharp political attacks to come as the campaign battles intensify.

“Democrats chose to wage this economic warfare against the middle class, against their savings, against their financial stability, against the purchasing power and the lifestyles that workers and parents sacrifice literally for years to build up,” said Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican.

He pointed to other hot-button issues like crime and immigration as areas where Democrats in Washington are “still refusing to get with the program” in the wake of passing into law a massive tax and climate spending measure along party lines.

“Americans may want their leaders to cut inflation, fight crime and drugs and secure the border but democrats just spent hundreds of billions of dollars of the people’s money doing precisely none of that,” he said. “Stable prices, safe streets, reliable energy and a secure border: four of the most basic duties that any government owes its people. Four things Democrats have proven they cannot deliver.”

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On the heels of President Biden’s move last month to wipe out up to $20,000 in student debt for millions of Americans, Mr. Schumer accused Republicans of hypocritical outcry.

The executive order to forgive some student debt ignited fierce opposition from both sides of the aisle, with critics arguing taxpayers would have to foot the bill.

“We’ve heard a lot of fake outrage from Republicans saying that canceling student debt is nothing more than a giveaway to wealthy Americans, the same Republicans who made tax cuts for the ultra-rich,” Mr. Schumer said. 

The New York Democrat was referring to former President Donald Trump’s tax cuts that tilted toward the wealthy and large corporations.

He argued that canceling student loans would largely benefit the low- and middle-class.

“Canceling student debt will lift up Americans from all walks of life, students of color, poor Americans, working and middle-class families struggling to get to the middle class or stay there,” Mr. Schumer said.


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