‘Hold on, hold on!’ WH econ adviser gets TESTY with Martha MacCallum over student debt relief

White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein folded himself into a pretzel to try to convince Fox News host Martha MacCallum that spending money that the country doesn’t actually have to bail students out of their education loans is a fantastic idea.

(Video Credit: Fox News)

Despite a University of Pennsylvania report estimating that President Joe Biden’s debt cancellation program could top $1 billion, Bernstein claimed that the total of the $10,000 to $20,000 per qualified borrower should be around $350 billion in his Monday appearance on Fox News’s “The Story.”

MacCallum was most eager to get to the bottom of who exactly was going to pay for the horrendously large program and tried to knock some sense into Bernstein with a simple example.

“So let’s say I have $15,000 in credit card debt that I can’t cover with my income. That’s my deficit. So I’ve got $15,000 that I can’t cover,” she began. “So if someone gives me $5,000 and so now my debt is $10,000, I didn’t just make $5,000. I don’t have $5,000 extra. I’m still dealing in a deficit. So how is that something can I use that to pay for furniture for my house? I can’t. That’s not money I have now.”

Bernstein argued that the amount of government outgo over the past few years has been reduced, so it really didn’t make a difference if they dropped billions of dollars to forgive loans the students promised to pay back.

“So the way to think about this is that the government is taking in way more in both receipts and spending way less than we have been in prior years,” Bernstein said.

“But it’s still a huge deficit,” MacCallum shot back.

Bernstein deflected by retorting, “The deficit remains a negative. No question.”

“We still spend more than we have,” MacCallum stated.”So if I save more of that money, that’s not an income. That’s not a windfall. I don’t have that money.”

Bernstein immediately tried to flip the script.

“The question on the table, I think you’re making this way too confusing,” he told the news anchor.

“I don’t think so,” MacCallum said, clear in her understanding of simple arithmetic.

“Then let me suggest how you’re doing so,” MacCallum said. “The question on the table is, is it accurate to say that we’re reducing the deficit more than the cost of student loan forgiveness? And the answer is unquestionably yes. Ok? I hope that’s pretty straightforward.”

“Well, you’re saying people can look at numbers a lot of different ways and the Penn/Wharton model…” MacCallum pushed back.

“Hold on, hold on!” Bernstein stopped her. “I’m not going to let you do the thing where you recast what I said totally differently.”

MacCallum conceded to hear him out on his magical math.

“What I’m saying is very straightforward,” Bernstein reiterated. “We are reducing the budget deficit, both in this year and last year, far more, multiples more than the cost of student debt forgiveness. Very simple, very straightforward fact. So I just wanna make sure that is on the record.”

Bernstein later tried to shoot down any critics of the policy since Biden spoke about it during his campaign.

“He said he was going to administer this debt relief,” the economist said. “I think it’s just another promise made, promise kept. And anyone who’s feigning surprise over this hasn’t been paying attention.”

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