Indiana Republican Representative Jim Banks was criticized after he complained about Democratic President Joe Biden's plan to forgive some student loan debt, saying the move "undermines" the military's efforts to recruit young people who are looking for a way to pay for their college education.
Banks joined a chorus of Republicans who have also criticized the proposal, arguing student loan forgiveness would only shift billions of dollars of debt to taxpayers and deal a blow to the economy, a claim that runs counter to data from economists who've noted student debt cancellations would only boost Americans' purchasing power.
Writing on Twitter, Banks declared forgiving student loan debt effectively "undermines one of our military’s greatest recruitment tools at a time of dangerously low enlistments."
The Pentagon spends billions of dollars per year recruiting poor teenagers—predominantly people of color—into military service, breathing life into what's become known as "the poverty draft," which forces individuals from poorer families to enlist in the military to avoid economic hardship.
While there has been no military draft in the United States since 1973, for decades "during both peacetime and periods of conflict, men were drafted to fill vacancies in the armed forces which could not be filled through voluntary means," according to the Selective Service System (SSS).
Banks' tweet angered people who pointed out the Republican Party's members are essentially telling on themselves when they insist poor people should be threatened with mountains of debt unless they feed themselves to the war machine.
Biden's decision has been hailed for helping borrowers with lower credit scores and opening up the opportunity for millions of people to catch up on rent and utility bills as well as save money that would have otherwise gone to their student loans.
The plan forgives $10,000 - $20,000 for individuals making less than $125,000, or couples making less than $250,000. According to the White House, the overwhelming majority of student loan relief will benefit those earning less than $75,000 a year, and no one in the top five percent of wage earners will benefit from the plan.
In his remarks while announcing the decision, Biden said canceling some debt would allow many people to "finally crawl out from under that mountain of debt to get on top of their rent and utilities, to finally think about buying a home or starting a family or starting a business."