Do People Who Don't Have Student Debt Care About Student Loan Forgiveness?

As President-Elect Joe Biden continues to face pressure to cancel student loan debt when he takes office in January, people on Twitter have weighed in on an important discussion: do people who don't have debt or have paid off their student loans care if debt is cancelled for everyone?

Some people are worried about possible backlash should Biden cancel college debt in his first 100 days. "Those with college debt will be thrilled, of course. But lots and lots of people who didn't go to college or who worked to pay off their debts? Gonna be bad," The Week columnist Damon Linker tweeted

Others voiced their concerns, seemingly about increased taxes should student debt be cancelled. Social media editor for conservative news site The Blaze Jessica O'Donnell tweeted that the people paying would be "the people who already paid for our student loans." Another said that he wanted money he spent on community college refunded.

While a number of people expressed their worries, others who have paid off loans, like How to Be an Antiracist author Ibram X. Kendi said they supported efforts to cancel debt. Kendi also criticized people for "trying to drive wedges between the American people" with the debate. Another user weighed in saying that she made sacrifices to pay off student debt (as well as other debt she incurred along the way), but argued that she'd be happy to cancel student debt so that others wouldn't have to deal with the same level of stress.

Ocasio-Cortez weighed in, criticizing those who are arguing against cancelling the debt. Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar responded to Linker's tweet with a similar rebuttal. Senator Bernie Sanders also made the argument that public college tuition in countries like Germany, France and more is free, and that the U.S. should follow suit.

Some people have used humor to explain why people should support cancelling the debt. One writer compared it to paying for lifeguards, even when people know how to swim. Comedian Jaboukie Young-White made a hilarious dark joke, likening student debt to the disease ALS. "[N]ot wanting people to cancel student debt bc you already paid is like Lou Gehrig coming back to a Lou Gehrig's disease fundraiser like 'Halt,'" he tweeted.

Many others used the "Trolley Problem" meme to show how problematic it can be to argue against cancelling student debt. In the inversion of the classic ethics question, the trolley has already run over a group of people, while there is an opportunity to divert it, before running over another group. The bystander at the switch satirically asks, "Would it be fair to the people the trolley has already killed to divert it now?"

Student Debt
Students protest the rising costs of student loans for higher education on Hollywood Boulevard on September 22, 2012 in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles, California. David McNew/Getty