Republicans launch new attack on Cheri Beasley — student loan forgiveness

The Senate Leadership fund launched a new ad over the weekend in the North Carolina Senate race between Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican Ted Budd.

The ad attacks Beasley over her support for President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan.

“You made good choices, paid your own bills, avoided going into debt,” a narrator intones over images of a man working with a saw, a senior pouring over documents and an older gentleman working in a grocery store. “But Cheri Beasley wants to force you to help pay off student loans for doctors and lawyers — even couples making up to a quarter million dollars a year.”

SLF spokesman Jack Pandol told Axios the group dropped $3.5 million on the ad.

It’s the first time SLF has attacked a Democrat over Biden’s executive order to cancel certain student loan debt. The order is being challenged in court. The order provides up to $10,000 in debt relief to students who did not receive a Pell Grant, and up to $20,000 if they did. Pell Grants are available to low-income undergraduate students. The legal challenge places that forgiveness in limbo.

While tens of millions of Americans who would benefit from the program celebrated the order, some have criticized the move, largely arguing it is unfair to bail individuals out of their financial obligations.

Six red states — Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and South Carolina — filed a lawsuit to block the loan forgiveness program. They argue the President lacks the authority to cancel debt nationwide without Congressional support.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has also filed a challenge, claiming it would weaken the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that enables his office to recruit staff. That program allows government workers to have student loan debt canceled after 10 years of service.

The ad attacking Beasley juxtaposes its message on loan forgiveness with what has become a common trope among conservative talking points this Midterm cycle — the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

“Beasley backs tax hikes on working families. She wants an army of IRS agents auditing the middle class with Beasley,” the narrator says as text on-screen indicates the “tax hikes” would apply to families “making under $75,000.”

House Republicans Budget committee said the Act would create “more than 700,000 new audits on taxpayers making less than $75,000 a year.

However, several other analyses, including the Urban Institute & Brookings Institution’s Tax Policy Center, found the Act would primarily impact those in the top 1% by raising taxes about $6,000 a year, with those in the top 0.1% seeing their taxes increased by a little less than $42,000. Those in that top income tier have incomes of $4.4 million or more, according to the TPC. Middle earners would see an increase of about $20 on their taxes, the TPC wrote.

While conservatives have found success with their claim about “an army of IRS agents,” many bill analyses show that’s a misleading argument. A CNBC report shows the IRS is expected to lose 50,000-80,000 employees through attrition over the next five years. Not all of the new hires possible under the Act wood be enforcement agents.

Still, the anti-Beasley ad furthers the sort of class warfare arguments that have been common in recent years.

“The rich get bailed out and you’re left with a bill. That’s liberal politicians,” it concludes.

Beasley is locked in a tight race with Budd, with a FiveThirtyEight average showing Budd with a less than 1-point advantage in the race, enough to give Democrats hope that they can swing a key pick-up in a state former President Donald Trump carried in 2020.

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