Perhaps the most lasting legacy of the Blue Dog coalition is Kyrsten Sinema and Henry Cuellar; a senator who spends more time with elite donors than her constituents and an A-rated NRA, anti-choice conservative. And in its nearly three-decade history, the caucus is at an all-time low. Nevertheless, two of its members are committed to bringing it back, by way of some of the worst, most characteristic P.R. possible: voting with Republicans to leave 43 million people under the weight of crippling student debt.
On Wednesday, Maine’s Jared Golden and Washington’s Marie Gluesenkamp Perez joined House Republicans and voted to repeal President Joe Biden’s student debt relief program and to terminate the freeze on federal student loan payments and interests.
The resolution, part of Republicans’ demands in order to agree to raise the debt ceiling, passed 218–203.
Shortly after, Perez took to Twitter to boast, alongside her two Blue Dog co-chairs, about getting “shit done.”
If voting with Republicans to leave the boot of debt on millions of people is a recruiting tool, at least it’s an honest encapsulation of how woefully inept and meager the Blue Dog coalition really is—and what kind of “shit” it has always aspired to get done.
“College costs too much,” Perez tweeted on her official congressional account Thursday morning, but she said there’s no way to reduce debt without also investing in “career & technical education.” It’s not clear why the millennial lawmaker seems unable to conceptualize alleviating the ridiculous student debt as part of the reconstruction plan for a system she admits is broken.
No less is the move disappointing given that Golden and Perez both have around 100,000 student debtors in their districts.
Republicans—some of whom are incredibly wealthy—have continued framing the student debt relief plan as a favor to the rich. But estimates show that 87 percent of the relief would go to individuals earning less than $75,000 a year, while none would go to those earning more than $125,000. Ninety-five percent of the total benefits would go to households making less than $150,000.
Facts and figures aside, as TNR has written previously:
There are millions of people in this country who are trying their best to bloom and live more whole and productive lives but are hindered by the burden of such soulless debt. In the short term, Republicans may frame their ideas as cost-saving, but in reality, such measures will increase medium- and long-term costs on society.
And by joining Republicans in the cynical measure to maintain the soul-splitting burden of debt on millions in this country, Golden and Perez show just how politically inept and practically unimaginative they are. Which, in reality, are prerequisites for being a member of the Blue Dog coalition.