Ted Cruz Slams 'Slacker Baristas' in Rant Against Student Loan Forgiveness

Republican Senator Ted Cruz has expressed concerns that "slacker baristas" benefitting from President Joe Biden's student loan debt forgiveness program could help Democrats in this year's midterm elections.

The Texas Republican said during the Friday edition of his Verdict with Ted Cruz podcast that the program, which allows individual borrowers to eliminate up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt, presented a "real risk" for GOP candidates this year. Cruz worried that Democratic turnout could see an uptick if the debt relief caused those who "wasted" time and money in college to become motivated enough to "get off the bong for a minute."

"There is a real risk," said Cruz. "If you are that slacker barista who wasted seven years in college studying completely useless things, now has loans and can't get a job—Joe Biden just gave you 20 grand. Like, holy cow! 20 grand. You know, maybe you weren't gonna vote in November. And suddenly you just got 20 grand.

"And you know, if you can get off the bong for a minute and head down to the voting station," he continued. "Or just send in your mail-in ballot that the Democrats have helpfully sent you—it could drive up turnout, particularly among young people."

Cruz's comments were met with many negative reactions from Democrats and progressives on social media, with some accusing the Republican senator of insulting service industry workers and warning that he may soon experience "spit in his coffee."

"Every barista that serves Ted Cruz for the rest of his life will spit in his coffee for his comment," tweeted Russell Foster, a former Democratic congressional candidate from Texas. "This is what Ted thinks about all of us, barista or not. While he married rich & sits around all day doing nothing, he projects that on some of the hardest workers in America."

"If someone cool had said this, it would feel mean and hurtful," entrepreneur and former Obama administration official Brandon Friedman tweeted. "But since Ted Cruz knows baristas have been spitting in his coffee for years, it's technically not punching down."

"This is what a leading Republican thinks of young "slacker" Americans who took out loans to go to college," tweeted Bernie Sanders, the progressive independent U.S. senator from Vermont and former Democratic presidential candidate.

"Shoutout to all the baristas — and all hardworking middle-class folks — in Texas," the Texas Democratic Party tweeted. "You know, the people Ted Cruz fled from during the 2021 winter storm to skip his work and go vacation in Cancun."

"Baristas work harder in a single shift than Ted Cruz has ever worked in his life," tweeted progressive commentator and former Ohio state lawmaker Nina Turner.

"Multi-multi-millionaire, Ivy League lawyer, and Cancun aficionado Ted Cruz offers voting insights @ Millennials and Gen Z," progressive talk radio host Thom Hartmann tweeted. "Any slackers and/or baristas out there who'd care to share thoughts on where Cruz should put his advice, or how this is going to work out for Republicans?"

"The sad thing is the baristas who voted for him will claim he wasn't talking about them, just the OTHER baristas," tweeted actor Lamont Thompson. "Just like the black MAGA folks when they hear a MAGA clown drop the n-bomb look around to see who they could possibly be talking about."

"Understand the game — pushing the perception that the people who need this loan forgiveness are undeserving, lazy people," journalist Jemele Hill tweeted. "@tedcruz is a boil on the ass of humanity because he doesn't care about the people he serves."

Cruz is far from the only Republican lawmaker to heavily criticize the student loan forgiveness program, with most arguing that the scheme will cost taxpayers and is "unfair" to those who will not benefit because they did not go to college or already paid off their loans.

Ted Cruz Joe Biden Loans Slack Baristas
Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is pictured following a Senate hearing in Washington, D.C., on August 6, 2022. Cruz on Friday expressed concerns that President Joe Biden's student loan debt forgiveness program could spell bad news for Republicans in this year's midterm elections by emboldening "slacker baristas." Anna Rose Layden/Getty Images

Biden has said that the program is fair, "focuses the benefit on middle-class and working families" and will ultimately help the economy. The president instead questioned the fairness of Republican-enacted "tax breaks" to those who who "own multibillion-dollar businesses."

Newsweek reached out to Cruz's office for comment.